By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
NNPA Columnist

You can evaluate the quality of life in a society by the way it treats its children. Too many parents in our communities are having to prematurely bury their children who have been victims of unwarranted police brutality.  Of course, there is also too much Black on Black crime in our communities. And we must focus on both of these issues.

One would think that with Black as its president, there would have been a significant reduction in the tragic racial violence historically that has been perpetrated on the Black American community. Yet, that has not happened.  There has been no reduction in fatal attacks on Black Americans by law enforcement officers or from those who know that racism remains a major determinative factor that prevents equal justice.

This is not about choosing external violence over internal violence. Violence is violence. But the issue of racially-motivated police violence on Black Americans has reached a tipping point. Although the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture covered international relations, it can – and should – be placed within the context of fatal police shootings of Black America as well.

Torture is generally defined as the intentional infliction of severe pain or deadly force on a person or group of persons to force them to do something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain.

Sadly, some of the officers who wantonly and unjustly kill Black youth do often express their personal pleasures of “ridding the streets of the perps (perpetrators).”  It appears to be an open season on Black America.

Police Officer Darren Wilson showed no remorse for shooting unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown to death in Ferguson, Mo.  In fact, Wilson publicly asserted that he simply did what he was trained to do. The New York City police officers who helped to physically inflict pain, “take down” and “choke” Eric Garner to death maintain that they all acted legally to enforce the law.  The police officer who shot 12 -year old-Tamir Rice to death in Cleveland also stated that he did it because Tamir did not “obey” his command.

The infliction of pain and unjustified deadly force by police officers as a result of racial profiling and racial prejudice against Black Americans is a national disgrace and an international moral outrage that must be stopped.  The cumulative results of all these incidents of deadly police violence targeted at Black America amounts to a systematic form of torture.

In the U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C, there is a legal definition of torture that is on point:

(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—

(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;

(C) the threat of imminent death; or

(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering,

When I hear the parents of the growing list of victims of police brutality across the nation describe their individual and collective pain, excruciating agony, prolonged suffering and sense of persecution, I am hearing what amounts to the reality of  ”torture.”

Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached for national advertisement sales and partnership proposals at:; and for lectures and other professional consultations at:

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is presently the CEO & President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the President of Education Online Services Corporation (EOServe Corp), the world’s...

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