[2/17/19] – Racial Injustice, Police Violence and Mass Media

In 2018, police officers killed approximately 1,166 people in the United States. By contrast, in 2017, 14 people were killed by the German police forces in Germany. Questions of “Why so much violence?” “Are there alternatives?” and “Are particular races targeted?” are frequently explored in our mass media. This week we take a spotlight to the recent killing of Willie McCoy by police in Vallejo, where he was asleep in his car. We also explore gun violence police reform in Chicago and videos showing how police brutality seems to hit African Americans the hardest.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Racial Injustice, Police Violence and Mass Media



“How many people are killed by police each year in the U.S.?”


“I love being a police officer, but we need reform.”





Writing: How does video/social media coverage of racial violence differ in impact from news/written coverage?

Debate: Does media coverage of racial violence, specifically police brutality, have more political or personal/social influence? Why?

Poll: Do you believe police reform is the solution to racial violence?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

Short Answer: Why do you think there has been little to no decrease in racial violence despite social awareness and overall coverage?


Current Events Quiz

According to Willie’s family, the officers who shot McCoy should have _______.

  • Knocked on the window
  • Surrounded his car
  • Ordered him out from a distance with a bullhorn
  • Broken the window open

According to Lizzie Buchen, police are obviously capable of apprehending dangerous people without violence because ______.

  • They have used disarming shots on school shooters
  • They have non-violently arrested white men
  • They primarily use negotiation with terrorists
  • They participate in Navy Seal training twice a year

Willie McCoy was shot by ___ Vallejo police officers.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 6
  • None of the above; he was tasered.

Videos of police violence are traumatizing for which group?

  • African Americans
  • Politicians
  • Police officers
  • Men

What is the hashtag for the campaign with an anti-police sentiment?

  • #NoCopAcademy
  • #CopsSuck
  • #NoMorePoliceBrutality
  • #BlackLivesMatter



Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue

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