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Then and Now: Lynchings vs. Police Killings

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Lynchings and current police killings of black people may be more similar than you think…

1. The most obvious similarity between police killings and lynchings may be their nature. Both are savage and brutal acts, often performed in an excessively violent manner.
2. While black women and children do make up an important portion of victims, black men make up the overwhelming amount in both police killings and lynchings. The murders of women and children of any race often elicit more sympathy than those of men, a wrong and unfortunate stereotype both lynch mobs and police officers have depended upon.

3. In both police killings and lynchings, the “reasoning” behind the murder is often very trivial. Whether it be whistling at a white woman or selling CD’s, the reasons used to justify the actions are often so inconsequential that pure hatred and racism easily shine through as the true cause. It is well known that lynchings were often public events where people were welcome to eat, drink, take pictures and enjoy! Lynchings were so public that news would spread around the community (to both blacks and whites) almost instantly. Similarly, police killings are often held in public areas such as sidewalks, in front of conveniences stores, etc. where videos can be taken and eventually shared across the country. This is no accident… 
5. Lynchings were meant to instill fear throughout the black community. They taught blacks to stay in their place, which was inferior to that of whites. Similarly, police killings teach blacks not to talk back, or resist, or anything that could be construed as doing so if they value their lives. They teach black people to be and act afraid and inferior in order to survive. Both lynchings and police killings maintain white supremacy in economic, social, and political spheres. 
6. Lynch mob participants and police murderers have both rarely, if ever, been charged with any crime or faced any ramification that had lasting effects. America has both allowed and encouraged lynching and police killings through the lack of consequence for these actions. It was not until lynching had serious consequences did the popularity of this act dwindle.

Final thought: Those opposing the act of lynching petitioned to the government at all levels for many years with little success. The resistance movement was created and led by Southern women who believed in education and legal action were the only ways to end lynchings. Similarly, education and legal action may be the only ways to end police brutality in America.

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