These Four Shows Exposed The Reality Of Police Brutality In This Country

black and white pepper screen on a tv
Zain Murdock
May 14, 2022

Before The Shield aired in 2002, the LAPD “bullied Fox” to not show them in a bad light. The show depicts the brutality of the Rampart corruption scandal. In retaliation, the LAPD withdrew security support. Characters on the show were even banned from saying “LAPD” by name!

After the racial uprisings of 2020, Black writer Kay Oyegun had transracial adoptee character Randall Pearson react to George Floyd’s death on This Is Us. He then reveals he’d been traumatized by the also-real killing of Jonny Gammage as a teenager.

 Also in 2020, Law & Order SVU’s Detective Olivia Benson mirrors the actions of “Central Park Karen” Amy Cooper, who called the police on a Black bird-watcher earlier that year. In the end, Benson is forced to realize her own racial bias.

In 2015, Scandal released a Ferguson-inspired episode, where protagonist Olivia Pope must handle the optics of the police shooting of a 17-year-old. 

But writer Zahir McGhee acknowledged how television covers this issue only in singular “special” episodes. “We … fumble all over ourselves to show the humanity of police officers,” he remarked. “But only show the humanity of Black people when it's going to make us money.”

Exploring our humanity and exposing the reality of policing is important. But until we have less copaganda on TV and more truth, total honesty is still a long way away.

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