Many police officers in the United States continue to perceive people of color as a threat to white citizens, a political commentator says.
Protests erupted across the US on Wednesday night after a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner on July 17.
The chokehold death of Garner, a father of six and grandfather of two, was recorded on video, contributing to the public outrage. In the video, Garner repeatedly told police officers “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”
“In the context of these extrajudicial police actions as in chocking unarmed African Americans and shooting African Americans to death, I don’t see this ending anytime soon,” Dr. Wilmer Leon, political science teaching associate at Howard University in Washington, said in an interview.
“This is a systemic problem that is getting worse as America continues to perceive people of color as threats,” he told Press TV.
“Not all, but many police officers view the citizens that they are supposed to protect and serve as enemy combatants, and they are shooting first and asking questions later. This is a matter of perception. It is a matter of police viewing people of color as threats,” the analyst continued.
This perception, Dr Leon said, has been perpetuated in American culture though music, movies, television, and news channels which tend to depict blacks as a threat to whites, while studies have shown that “African Americans are no more criminally-inclined than anyone else, if not less criminally-inclined.”
The grand jury decision in Garner’s case came on the heels of another grand jury ruling that absolved former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.