Allegations of the use of excessive force by police departments in America continue to generate media headlines, more than two decades after the 1992 Los Angeles riots brought the issue to mass public attention and prompted law enforcement reforms. In Ferguson, Mo., a St. Louis suburb, the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown by a police officer, Darren Wilson, in August 2014 and a grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson, has continued to trigger unrest and protests. In New York, the July death of Eric Garner because of the apparent use of a “chokehold” by an officer has also sparked outrage. This follows other recent incidents and controversies, including: an April 2014 finding by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), following a two-year investigation, that the Albuquerque, N.M., police department “engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment”; and a similar DOJ finding in December 2014 with regard to the Cleveland police department.
Surveys in recent years with minority groups — Latinos and African-Americans, in particular — suggest that confidence in law enforcement is relatively low, and large portions of these communities believe police are likely to use excessive force on suspects. Also joining the discussion was Eric Garner's nephew, Gabriel Reyes. Garner was the man who died in New York City as members of the NYPD tried to arrest him last summer. Garner's nephew spoke with the audience about what he wants to see change within policing in America.
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