20 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y 161 (2012-2013)
Our Duty in Light of the Law's Irrelevance: Police Brutality and Civilian Recordings

handle is hein.journals/geojpovlp20 and id is 169 raw text is: ´╗┐Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy
Volume XX, Number 1, Fall 2012
Our Duty in Light of the Law's Irrelevance:
Police Brutality and Civilian Recordings
Andrew Rosado Shaw*
INTRODUCTION
In the 1960s, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense sent armed and
uniformed citizen patrols through the ghettos of Oakland, California.' These
brazen young men, belts of bullets across their chests and shotguns in hand,
marched to end the brutal abuse of the poor and minorities by the Oakland
police.2 The same call to action was heard across the nation. Civil rights activists
protested police brutality throughout the United States, demanding an end to
hundreds of years of police culture that had willfully ignored, and even
encouraged, widespread abuse.
Despite these protests, police violence persists. Decades later, in August of
1997, Haitian immigrant Abner Louima was brutally beaten and sodomized in the
restroom  of a Brooklyn police station by officers of the NYPD.4 He was
hospitalized with numerous injuries, including a punctured bladder and severed
colon.' Shortly afterward, the perpetrating officer paraded through the station
with the blood- and feces-stained instrument of his abuse, bragging of how he
took a man down tonight.6 In blatant disregard for these inhuman acts, fellow
officers not only failed to report the incident for weeks afterward, but only
eventually did so under the pressure of a highly publicized investigation.
* J.D. Candidate, Georgetown University Law Center (2013); B.A., Rutgers University (2010). The
author would like to thank his younger brother, whose victimization by the police inspired this Note; his
grandfather, Rev. Dr. Josu6 Rosado, who spent much of his life combating similar abuses as a pastor of
the United Methodist Church in the Bronx and Spanish Harlem; and the members of the Georgetown
Journal on Poverty Law and Policy, whose tireless efforts contributed enormously to this Note and
allowed for its publication. @ 2012, Andrew Rosado Shaw.
1. James A. Tyner, Defend the Ghetto: Space and the Urban Politics of the Black Panther Party, 96
ANNALS Ass'N OF AM. GEOGRAPHERS 105, 111 (2006).
2. History of the Black Panther Party, BLACK PANTHER RES. PROJECT, http://www.stanford.edu/group/
blackpanthers/index.shtml (last visited Oct. 7, 2012).
3. See infra Part I.A; MARILYNN S. JOHNSON, STREET JUSTICE: A HISTORY OF POLICE VIOLENCE IN NEW
YORK CITY 13 (2003) (stating that citizens complained of violence since the founding of the NYPD in the
1840s).
4. Marie Brenner, Incident in the 70th Precinct, VANITY FAR (Dec. 1997), available at http://www.
vanityfair.com/magazine/archive/1997/12/louimal99712.
5. Id.
6. Jack E. White, The White Wall of Silence, TIME MAG. (June 6, 1999), http://www.time.com/time/
magazine/article/0,9171,26382,00.html.
7. Id.

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