Hyperawareness or Rise in Occurrences?

It seems like everyday in the news you see an incident between a black man and a white cop. Wether the actions taken by either the cop or the civilian were justified or not it appears like the amount of occurrences between these two groups have risen since the discussion of which lives matter began with the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. But the is the apparent increase in the amount of incidents an actual increase, or is it that the American people (and especially the media) have become hyper aware of when incidents occur? While the violent actions taken by police officers have been called into question excessive force. As in the case of Eric Garner and the need of choke-holds, or more recently in Arizona when a police officer was authorized to use whatever means deemed necessary in order to prevent a man with a gun from approaching a highly populated area where the officer in question used his car to hit the suspect, who happened to be black.

This most recent case in Arizona highlighted for me the role of the media within the social aspects in racializing these incidents. In the segment on the incident I watched it first showed the use of excessive force, framing the officer as a mad man with a battering ram. Only after showing the dash-cam footage a few times did this news broadcast show why the officer was told to use any means necessary to apprehend the suspect because he had just stolen a rifle and ammunition from a store and was walking closer and closer to a highly populated area. This case showed the framing effect that the media has upon how viewers react toward a story.

The media effect seems to point to hyperawareness it could also be the case that there are a rise in incidents, as it every other day another black man seems to be at the opposite end of a police officers badge. While in some cases there appears to be an underlying racist sentiments, the media seems to be placing such sentiments on each incident it is not necessarily the truth.

So is there a actual rise? I think that there is some of both, as crimes become more violent the responsive actions taken by officers have to reflect that rise in violence, and more violent acts are what makes the news.


4 thoughts on “Hyperawareness or Rise in Occurrences?

  1. I think it is interesting that you bring this up for one of your blog posts because it is something that crosses my mind each time I see a new story of a policeman killing a black man. I definitely agree with you in that it is a little of both. The media frames stories in ways they think it serves society best. It seems this is done to get a reaction out of the audience and question how to fix it. I had not heard of this new Arizona case but I am not surprised the media left out a side of the story with the recent happenings between white police officers and young black men. With that, it is sad to say I think these scenarios have been happening for awhile but I think the portrayal in the media has increased. We, as Americans, have become hyperaware of injustices are taking place. I am not entirely how to overcome this problem in American society as I am not a police officer nor do I report these stories, but I think it is important for citizens to understand how racism is still prevalent throughout the nation. As horrible as these situations are, there can be good to come out of them and I think that stems from us recognizing the faults with the criminal justice system and working to overcome the injustices. When Trayvon Martin’s mom came to speak at Denison, she highlighted the need for us to vote in local elections in order to facilitate these changes starting within the local level.


  2. I completely believe that these incidents have been going on for a long time, but it is only recently that society is becoming aware of them. It’s not that these are the first incidents that have been covered, but in the last few years, we’ve actually been given proof. The most recent incident where police brutality by a white cop onto a black man was caught on tape was of Walter Scott. If there had been no video evidence, then the cop would have gotten away with murdered Scott. This could be said in many different cases. In a lot of them, the only reason that society became aware of these issues was because they were caught on tape. Maybe it’s not that there has been a hyper awareness of these crimes or that there has been an increase in incidents. Possibly, as technology increases, it becomes increasing more difficult to ignore this type of brutality.

    That’s just one theory, but if there’s any truth in it, what should we do about these type of videos? When Trayvon Martin’s mom came to speak at Denison, she said that if it were in her ability to get the picture of Trayvon’s dead body off the internet, she would. It pains her everyday to see it. And, though the family of Walter Scott said initially that they were glad that there was a video that told the truth out there, do they still feel the same way now that CNN has been streaming the video of the murder non-stop? These videos are so violent that the fact that we need them in order to acknowledge this type of racism and brutality is horrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. I’ve often had this conversation with my father about things like child abuse or domestic violence. The problem is that we only collect data on things that are important to us – and child abuse and domestic violence weren’t (still aren’t?) that important to us. Something similar might be said for the violence of police officers. We expect them to be violent – they have to be sometimes to do their jobs (remember Cover’s “Violence and the Word?”). That said, the violence meted out by police officers on people who are vulnerable – gays and lesbians, women, people of color, immigrants, the mentally disturbed, etc. – seems to be pretty consistent. All that to say that I’m with Jacquie on this one – I don’t think the numbers have changed so much as we care now in ways we didn’t/couldn’t 50 years ago.

    For example, think of being a black man in the South in the 1950s. The law (remember Du Bois and Wacquant) was mostly structured around controlling you. So the law could do whatever it wanted and you had very little capacity to resist. So you were roughed up when you got dragged in. Who cares? What are you going to do? Get a lawyer? Not very many black lawyers living in the South, and they relied on the good graces of the mostly white power structure to accomplish much. Thus, I suspect many many instances of horrific violence by police on black bodies occurred, but we never heard of them.

    Then again, Alexander’s work suggests that The New Jim Crow is of a different tenor. It now happens under neutral ‘law and order’ language rather than explicitly racist justifications. In some ways, of course, that makes it even harder to see.


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