Police Racial Violence: Lessons from Social Psychology

17 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2015

Date Written: August 7, 2015


This Article uses critical race theory and lessons from social psychology to examine police violence. Many accounts attempt to explain instances of racial violence at the hands of the police, ranging from arguments that the police acted justifiably to arguments likening these killings to Jim Crow lynchings. Certainly, it is tempting to blame this violence either on the racial animus of officers or the purportedly threatening behaviors of victims because it simplifies the problem; either the individual officer or citizen is at fault. This Article argues that reducing the problem of racial violence to the individual police-citizen interaction at issue obscures how current policing practices and culture entrench racial subordination and, thus, racial violence. As a result, unless institutional interventions are made, racial violence is inevitable regardless of whether officers have malicious racial motives or citizens engage in objectively threatening behaviors.

Suggested Citation

Richardson, L. Song, Police Racial Violence: Lessons from Social Psychology (August 7, 2015). Fordham Law Review, 2015, Forthcoming, UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-72, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2641114

L. Song Richardson (Contact Author)

Colorado College ( email )

14 East Cache La Poudre Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
United States

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