Police Brutality in Modern Media

Police Brutality in the Media

Propaganda is built into the DNA of America. It is a rising epidemic that American journalist have repeatedly incorporated while releasing information to the public. Their actions are self-evident through profound issues such as Police Brutality, which have been misconstrued in such a way that diverts from the public’s original perspective.

As a result, the media is presented falsified information, that undermines the original truth. The pain of those affected by its dreadful oppression, have unknowingly adapted as a norm in society. It is no longer a grave issue when an African American man is shot in cold blood but seen as a causal antic. Through concrete analysis of the history of police brutality, the American society’s response has gradually altered over time. Corrupt law enforcers with soiled hands can walk freely due to the failing justice system, that citizens have no knowledge in. They lack knowledge because they are not receiving adequate information on the events are that taking place every day.

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Instead, they are receiving a biased, watered down form of the truth. This causes injustice to rise, and the justice system to turn a blind eye towards the citizens of this country. Despite controversial belief that propaganda has no effect on today’s society, an analysis of various articles concerning police brutality reveals
that in an attempt to convey a more authentic read, journalist have repeated the style of incorporating persuasive language along with emotional examples presented by influential sources to cover up underlined bias, which ultimately influences the public’s perception of violence in the hands of law enforcement.

The issue of police brutality serves as a controversial topic in which a clear majority of the American population understand the danger that police brutality has on Black-American lives and the progression of society. While, another portion of the American population continue to make excuses for the actions of police. This distinction is evident through the authors selected point of view when writing articles. Although the perception of bias relays the article, journalists continue the implication of rhetoric to cover it up. When writing, journalists attempt to create a subtle and clear stance in their argument however, steering away from making their writing highlight the obvious reason as to why their position was chosen. The CNN journalist, Michael Martinez, in the article, California Cop Placed on Leave in The Wake of Third Brutality Allegations, addresses the topic of
police brutality and argues that the rising levels of brutality from law enforcement is becoming an issue amongst society. It’s ironic that the examples used in this article were taken from a Hispanic-American just as the journalist in the article. Martinez presents all the faults in the actions of police by using reports from each of the investigation. The sources he provides, not only validates his argument but creates a logical backbone to the article.

Another noticeable act Martinez demonstrates is his eloquent use of persuasive language. From beginning to end his diction consistently sides against police brutality, urging the readers to do so as well. He fails to include any
personal anecdotes in fear of creating a biased piece of writing. These same uses of rhetoric were also evident in an article from TIME magazine written by Howard Safir, the former commissioner of the New York City Police Department called Police Brutality Is Inexcusable-And Rare. In this writing, he urges readers that the killing of
civilians by authority is rare and due to threat amongst life (Safir 1). In the beginning of the article, Safir says the shooting…is an enormous tragedy and will hurt the image of police officers and police departments (Safir 1). Being a former commissioner, it is expected that he would be rational in his opinion regarding the matter.

However, when stating his claim, he begins by embedding diction that made him appear neutral to the situation. His mechanism of pros and cons to show his equality in his opinion is put to cover any accusations of bias. He also appeals to readers emotions by presenting the actions of police as misunderstood and rare. Safir does this by including quotes such as police officers are human beings – they make mistakes (Safir 1) and law enforcement
is a noble profession and should be regarded as such (Safir 1). These quotes were not only used as a form of justification for the actions of the police but created sympathy for them. Emotional subduction distracts readers from where their sources are coming from, and the effect it has on their perception. Safir also
exemplifies and authenticates his information by providing statistics and percentages from cases. For example, he says only 1% of encounters between police & citizens results in any use of force at all and nine out of ten
cases, citizens are happy with their interaction, and in 99 out of 100, no force is used (Safir 1). These two
examples visually attract the reader to take in the information as accurate and reputable. The attraction befuddles readers away from the journalist himself, and the obviousness as to his opinion and how it is embedded into the claim.

Although they apply the same uses of rhetoric to express their opinion, American and international journalists have different motives when expressing arguments through writing and who they wish to appeal to. This contrast can be seen in articles regarding police brutality in countries like Syria. Most of the journalist are Syrian as well and most of the time, are going through the same oppression as their fellow citizens rather than just witnessing it. Because of that, the writings are created to amplify a reaction from readers in efforts to end police brutality. For example, in an article called Torture in Syria published by an anonymous Syrian journalist for state of enlightenment they use audacious diction when describing the events such as rattled the middle east, severe human rights abuse and torturing prisoners (Torture).

Unlike American journalist whose pathos is used to invoke sympathy and remorse, international journalist writes to invoke vengeance and anger. Another example of this implication is seen in a New York Times article concerning police brutality in Nigeria called Changing Nigeria’s Cruel Police Culture written by Adewale Maja-Pearce who happens to be Nigerian as well. In the article, Pearce illustrates the acts of police brutality he witnessed in Nigeria. He uses a very gruesome tone to not only detail interrogation acts by police but to also appeal to the readers. Instead of using words like I heard him cry out remorsefully, Pearce writes I will never forget his screams when the first lash laced across his back. (Maja-Pearce 1). As the article proceeds, Pearce includes a statement from the police force’s public relations officer saying the police force…has significantly improved on its human rights records (Maja-Pearce 1).

This statement validates how although the police force claims to be putting an end to the issue, the problem prevails and is even getting worse. By fastening this contradiction, Pearce hopes that readers can take information from such a high positioned course and see it as a sign of everyone being corrupt. This action changes the
perception of those that thought change was occurring. Another noticeable act by this certain journalist was how he presented the information by using distinct language. Pearce reemphasized the calamity of the situation along with
the effects it had on the Nigerian population. The use of words like demoralization, torture and impunity serves as negative connotations to describe what the police are doing (Maja-Pearce 1). As readers go through this article, they are disgusted, appalled and angered; exactly what the journalist intended. Conclusively, the style of journalism remains the same worldwide but the motivation and audience of each contrast with one another.

Traditionally, the idea of death in the hands of police would be repulsive and vile but now, the American society is becoming accustomed to these actions. It is evident that the change in journalistic coverage plays a role in the public’s reaction to police brutality over time. The vicissitude of publics opinion on police brutality is shown through the amount of different forms of rhetoric embed. Increase and decrease of the rhetoric shapes the public’s opinion on the information; dangerously important or a repeated tragedy. In an article by thinkprogress.org named, What Has Changed about Police Brutality in America written by Nicole Flatow, an act of brutality by police that
occurred in 1991 was described as such an unthinkable crime, that it resulted in immediate consequence to the police. After the publication of the first article concerning that case, the reader’s reaction triggered three days of violent riots during which at least 53 people died and created immense momentum for reform, so of course the addition of this information was in the form of pathos which invoked the reader’s reaction (Flatow 1).

However, journalist was able to carry that out with just their style of writing and implication of very few forms of rhetoric, leading to more actualization of the event taking place. Now an analysis of an article concerning the same topic written this year would show you that persuasive language, emotional examples and credible sources have
been amplified and exaggerated to where it does nothing but created an awe, that sucks effect on the public. For example, in an article titled Police Can Use A Deadly Force If They Merely Perceive a Threat, written by a journalist named German Lopez, it is shown how reports on a noticed correlation people getting pulled over by police received a variety of reactions from the public. Because of this observation, Legally, what most
matters in these shootings is whether police officers reasonably believed that their or others’ lives were in danger, not whether the shooting victim actually posed a threat (Lopez 5). Just compare this reaction to that of today. If this same observation were displayed today, the actions of today’s court proves that a reaction is less likely to happen.

Journalist are seemingly aware that the coverage of bias makes their writing appear more authentic in the eyes of
readers. How the public perceives the information is affected by the written opinion of the journalist, which is shown through the actions seen today. With the riots, protests, and even reform movements such as required police cameras are example of results from persuasive writings. For example, a Houston Chronicle journalist, Cindy George in the article Victories Claimed in Police Brutality Suits addresses the topic of police brutality and argues that Houston area Polices are blindly being cleared of all wrongdoings. Her purpose was to display the level of difficulty in trying to gain justice from police wrongdoings to show how easily police can get away with acts of brutality. She persuasively develops her article by developing pathos to analyze emotional examples in which the victims were hurt due to the fault 6 of police. She also includes the opinion of Bill Helfand, who represented the Webster and Stafford officers and whose firm dominates the defense of police liability cases statewide as a credible source of information (George 1). With the use of these forms of rhetoric, the journalist sculpts the opinion of readers regarding police brutality.

The increase of police brutality is becoming a worldwide dilemma. So, because of this growing pandemic, journalist have taken advantage of the ignorance and fear of the public in efforts to not only get their opinion across but to prompt a reaction. These same master minds are aware of how using biased opinions can deteriorate the authenticity of their writing. As a result, journalist uses the style of incorporating persuasive language along with emotional examples presented by influential sources to cover up underlined bias ultimately influencing the public’s perception of violence in the hands of law enforcement.


  1. Flatow, Nicole. “What Has Changed about Police Brutality in America.”
    Think Progress.org. N.p., 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
  2. George, Cindy. Victories Claimed in Police
    Brutality Suits. Houston Chronicle. Cindy George 6 June 2015. Web. 23 Jan.
  3. Lopez, German. Police Can Use Deadly Force
    If They Merely Perceive a Threat.Vox, 15 June 2015,
  4. Martinez, Michael, and Stan Wilson.
    California Cop Placed on Leave in Wake of Third Brutality Allegation. CNN.
    Cable News Network, 16 Sept. 2011. Web. 02 Dec. 2015.
  5. Pearce,
    Adewale Maja. “Changing Nigeria’s Cruel Police Culture.” New York
    Times. N.p., 7 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
  6. Safir, Howard. Howard Safir on Walter
    Scott: Police Brutality Is Inexcusable-And Rare. Time,
  7. Time,
    8 Apr. 2015, time.com/3814344/walter-scott-howard-safir-police-brutality-is-inexcusable-and-rare/.
  8. “Torture in Syria.” State Of
    Enlightment. N.p., 13 Feb. 2012. Web
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