A reminder that police violence is a danger to communities’ mental health. And research supports that claim.

george floyd protests

Premature mortality, mental trauma, depression, anxiety …

Warning: embedded videos contain graphic violence.

What if your innocent and non-threatening family member or neighbor was attacked by a police dog  — like then-52-year old Desiree Collins was when she was taking out her household trash nearly three years ago?

How do you think Collins should feel about the experience after it happened?

Do you think she would be emotionally triggered when she sees dogs from now on?

How should Collins’ family and community members feel about her experience, and the possibility that a police dog may attack another adult or child?

How can Levar Jones’ family members and friends watch a video of him being shot by a police officer for retrieving a driver’s license — just after being asked by the officer to show a driver’s license — and not experience emotional trauma? Fortunately, Jones survived the gunshots. Pay special attention to the second an third shots and Jones’ hands in the embedded video below.

How did that incident change Jones’ behavior during future interactions with police?

Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter sat in the same car as Philando Castile when he was shot to death by a police officer, after Castile declared his possession of a legal firearm and prepared to show the officer identification.

Isn’t it fair to assume that people like Reynolds and her daughter would be traumatized by this experience?

And how about the youth of color, who have been stopped-and-frisked in their communities by police officers on a recurring basis? What do you think will be the youths’ recurring reactions when they see police cars nearby?

What will be the emotional toll on your children, spouse, partner and community members, who witness police officers beating, choking, or shooting you to death?

How can that experience not affect them? How can that experience not psychologically affect you, should you survive?

Research exists to support the connection between police violence and the mental health of marginalized communities.

Published through the  Journal of the American Medical Association network in 2018, the study titled “Association of Exposure to Police Violence With Prevalence of Mental Health Symptoms Among Urban Residents in the United States” collected community members’ experiences with police officers in New York City and Baltimore, Maryland to conclude that police violence is not only more prevalent in communities of color and LGBTQ persons, but the violence also brought lasting, negative health consequences:

Our main findings were that 12-month police violence exposures were commonly reported among adult residents of Baltimore and New York City; communities of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities were disproportionately affected, and these exposures were associated with greater odds of current psychological distress and concurrent (12-month) suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and psychotic experiences.

“Association of Exposure to Police Violence With Prevalence of Mental Health Symptoms Among Urban Residents in the United States” (source page with pdf).

This finding is significant because sufficient evidence already proves that marginalized communities are over-policed when compared to white communities.

The study goes on to mention that agitation, depression, hopelessness,  and feelings of helplessness and worthlessness are mental health outcomes of police violence.

Without qualifiers, over-policing — or police operating in marginalized communities like an occupying force — is unhealthy.

And the resulting mental health issues can adversely affect educational achievement, job performance, community and family relationships, as well as the ability of existing health systems to support these affected people.

With perverse credit given to police departments zeal to violently suppress George Floyd protests across the United States, more Americans have witnessed police violence in all its toxicity.

And the solution is in the hands of these same Americans, who should press state and local governments to: [1] Implement alternatives to current policing methods; [2] Increase availability of mental health resources to support people affected by police violence; and [3] Collaborate with community-based organizations who have a detailed understanding of these issues and create interventions that help people heal.

Be sure to call out all political officials who want this kind of mental health crisis to remain — before you vote them out.

Police violence is just one of many oppressive systems that adversely affect communities. There’s plenty of work ahead for all … 

song currently stuck in my head: “dead man walking” – terrance martin feat. rose gold & nick grant

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s