For the last episode of Volume 4, Minhaj chose to discuss police brutality and the system that’s causing it. He decided to cover this topic because recently, the anniversary of Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald and Eric Garner’s deaths passed. Brown, McDonald and Garner were just three victims of police brutality and unsurprisingly, they were all black. “Think about all the things we’ve seen in the past five years,” Minhaj says. “I Can’t Breathe, Kaepernick, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Jay-Z and the NFL and the best episode of ‘Black-ish,’”. All of these movements significantly affected the way we view racism in the United States. However, there are some other protests that weren’t successful, such as Kendall Jenner’s 2017 Pepsi advertisement. “That’s not an ad for Pepsi, that’s an ad for being a rich white girl.” Minhaj says.
Minhaj starts to break down the problem with police brutality, starting with how the system is letting it happen. He spoke with Seth Stoughton, a law professor who was a city cop for five years and a state investigator for two and a half years, in order to show the audience how the problems start right at the beginning of every police officer’s career: during training. Stoughton says that the problem is not because of a lack of training, but because rising cops are trained in the wrong way. For example, there are eight hours of training in de-escalation, but 129 hours in in weapons and fighting. “Imagine if pilots spent 94% of their training going down the emergency slide,” Minhaj points out. Minhaj also focuses on the trainings performed by Dave Grossman, a former professor at West Point who now teaches a class about “warrior policing” to law enforcement officers. “If you properly prepare yourself, killing is just not that big a deal,” Grossman says in a video clip to his students. To that, Minhaj replies “How is Dave Grossman not a suspect in every murder? There’s so many unsolved homicides in the country, and he’s just walking around like, ‘Killing is 100% normal.’”.
Minhaj then explains why he’s discussing Grossman’s teaching tactics at all by stating, “Even though he’s never killed anyone, at least one of his students has.” Officer Jeronimo Yanez, a cop in Minneapolis, took a seminar with Grossman, and two years later he pulled someone over and shot them seven times within ninety seconds, killing them. Minhaj indicates that there’s no reason to feel the need to shoot after only a minute and a half. The issue with police brutality is that, as Minhaj put it, “After they’re trained, cops get to play by a completely different set of rules than everyone else.” For example, it’s incredibly difficult to sue a cop. “I know, this is America, we love suing people. That’s why to become a US citizen they ask you, ‘Which one is Cellino, and which one is Barnes?’.” It’s so hard to sue because police officers are protected by qualified immunity and it’s almost impossible to prove that they’ve violated a right that was clearly established. A ten year old boy, Dakota Corbitt, was accidentally shot in the leg by Deputy Michael Vickers when the officer attempted to shoot a dog. When the family attempted to sue, their case was thrown out because there was never a previous case similar to their obscure situation, and therefore it could not be proven whether the cop truly violated a clearly established right.
“If a doctor commits malpractice, you can look that up. If a lawyer fabricates evidence, they get disbarred. If Lil Yachty records the theme song for Chef Boyardee, it’s on the Internet forever.” Minhaj jokes. His point is that there’s no national database on police records, and even when records were made at least somewhat visible, cops found ways around it. Minhaj states that he is not anti-union, but most police unions protect their members from legal action and even give them a full day to provide details on anything suspicious they may have done. Police unions protect their current members as opposed to helping civilians who are hurt by them. Minhaj really does an in depth analysis about the troubles of police brutality during this episode, and he does a fantastic job. I would absolutely recommend this episode.
New episodes of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj air every Sunday on Netflix and YouTube.
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