Crime

Adam West / June 12,2020

How ‘Cops’ shaped public opinion about police and people of color over the last 30 years

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COPS reality TV show has been cancelled.
Courtesy Paramount Network

When a writers’ strike paralyzed the television industry in the late 1980s, networks were forced to find new, alternative programs to fill its air. 
That’s how “Cops” found a home on Fox Television. The low budget program, which had no union writers, was a welcome solution — and it ran for 32 seasons. That is until earlier this week. 
Now owned by ViacomCBS, “Cops” was canceled in the wake of of protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
The show has long been criticized for its depiction of police interactions with criminal suspects, but high ratings kept the show running and even inspired other networks to create reality TV shows featuring cops. A&E’s “Live P.D.,” one of the highest-rated shows on cable, has also been canceled. 
“As an early reality program, it came across to people as raw documentary,” said Jack Bratich, associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University. “Nowadays audiences are more savvy about how reality programming is produced, edited and staged. Viewers are aware of how programs present perspectives and invite audiences to identify with those perspectives.”
The appeal of “Cops,” and other shows like it, was the idea that it was an unfiltered look at what police face everyday while on the job. However, this lens was more filtered than most audiences were aware of at the time of its inception and, as the program gained popularity, it began to reinforce racial stereotypes about the Black community.

The reality of ‘Cops’

Adam West / May 25,2020

George Floyd’s family says four officers involved in his death should be charged with murder

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The family of George Floyd — who died after pleading that he couldn’t breathe while a police officer held him down with a knee on his neck — say they want the four Minneapolis officers involved charged with murder.

“They were supposed to be there to serve and to protect and I didn’t see a single one of them lift a finger to do anything to help while he was begging for his life. Not one of them tried to do anything to help him,” Tera Brown, Floyd’s cousin, told CNN’s Don Lemon.

In an emotional interview Tuesday night, Brown and Floyd’s two brothers held up his picture and spoke of a man who “didn’t hurt anybody” and who they described as a “gentle giant.”

“Knowing my brother is to love my brother,” Philonise Floyd said. “They could have tased him, they could have maced him, instead they put their knee in his neck and just sat on him and then carried on.”

“They treated him worse than they treat animals,” he said.

Minneapolis police said officers were responding to an alleged forgery Monday evening and were told a person later described as the suspect was sitting on a car. They found Floyd, who at that point was inside a car and police said he “physically resisted” after he got out. Officers handcuffed Floyd, who police said “appeared to be suffering medical distress.” He died at a hospital shortly after, police said.

Video captured by bystanders at the scene of the arrest shows an officer with his knee pressed against the neck of the 46-year-old, who was handcuffed on the pavement, complaining that his body hurt and he couldn’t breathe. Two officers handled the man on the ground while another stood nearby with his eyes on the bystanders as traffic passed.

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