Black Voices

Rutgers University Professor Brittney Cooper Wants Less Police 'Encounters,' Not Friendlier Ones


The death of Eric Garner at the hands of the New York City Police Department, and additional videos that have surfaced showing police using excessive force and placing individual in chokeholds, have sparked a heated debate about police brutality against African-Americans and in inner-city communities.

On Tuesday, HuffPost Live facilitated a conversation about NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s decision to send officers to train with the LAPD. Dr. Brittney Cooper, a professor of Africana studies at Rutgers University, explained why she thinks NYPD attempts to merely change officer training techniques will not be enough to erase a long history of tension between NYPD and the city’s black population.

“As a black person, I want to have less encounters with the police rather than more friendly encounters," she said. “There is a level of power that they have that is rarely used for the safety of people who look like me, and is much more often used to antagonize people who look like me.”

Cooper went on to point out that the nature of interactions between law enforcement and the black community cannot be changed until the overall identity of minorities is disconnected from an ongoing cycle of abuse within the criminal justice system.

“The larger systemic issue is about how black and brown identity is formed in this country in part through the belief that if you step out of line, ‘we will police you. We will lock you up. We will kill you. We will wreck your communities through your interactions with the criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex.’ And that has led to some deep-seeded feelings of resentment, and they are quite warranted and justified.”

Follow Professor Cooper on Twitter.

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Against Police Brutality