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"Bloody Christmas"(1951) and The Shooting of Terrence Crutcher (2016) - Race, Crime, Police Abuse

The two cases I will be comparing and contrasting is a case known as “Bloody Christmas” in 1951 and the shooting of Terrence Crutcher in 2016. The first case involves 7 men who were beaten and attacked: 5 Hispanic men and 2 White men. The second case involves a Black man.

First, I will provide a little background on each case. “Bloody Christmas” involved 7 men who were severely beaten by members of the Los Angeles Police Department on December 25, 1951. This attack left these men with ruptured organs and broken bones. At the time many officers believed that Mexican-Americans were dangerous and violent and therefore engaged in racial profiling and excessive use of force. The night of the 25th, two officers responded to a call about minors drinking at Showboat Bar. When they got to the bar, there were 7 men inside who were all able to provide identification that they were of age. However, the officers asked all of them to leave the bar and the men refused to go. This fueled a fight and resulted in the officers using excessive force and the officers were injured. These men are later arrested and sent to prison. The next morning other officers learned of this incident and went down to the prison to “avenge.” The beat the 6 men for around 95 minutes and the department attempted to cover up this incident. Five officers were convicted, one only served in prison for more than a year, 54 officers were transferred and 39 officers were suspended.

The second case involved the shooting of Terrence Crutcher, a 40-year-old black man. The police received a call for an abandoned vehicle in the middle of the street. Crutcher then walked towards his vehicle. The police who reported to the site stated that Crutcher kept reaching into his pocket and refusing to raise his hands. Crutcher continued walking to his vehicle and reached into the side door disobeying the police orders. However, in this moment, the cops shot Crutcher. The officers believed that Terrence Crutcher was carrying a gun however when they searched him minutes after he was shot, they found no gun. The officer was charged with manslaughter and accused of unlawfully and unnecessarily shooting. She posted bond after her arrest and the jury found her not guilty.

In both cases, police abused their power to target and attack a person of color. In the first case, a department known for racial discrimination against Mexican-Americans, abused their power by racially profiling and using excessive force. The officer in the shooting of Terrence Crutcher, pulled out her gun and shot without reason instead of using a taser. I do not think this would have happened if it were a white male, however, the jury in this case concluded that any officer would have done the same thing regardless of skin color and gender. While these cases occurred at different time periods and in different jurisdictions, we can conclude that both targeted the suspects due to race and both could have dealt with the situation differently. Where these cases differ is the amount of people that were involved, as well as the types of charges. Neither case involved criminality. Once the seven men proved they were of age, the situation should not have escalated and the officers should have left the bar. Similarly with Terrence Crutcher, once the officers realized it was his car and nothing alarming was going on, the most the officers could have done was given a ticket for leaving the car in the middle of the road.

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