Narrative American and Police Brutality: Conclusion



At the same time that Native American suffer from high numbers of deaths at the hands of the state and overrepresentation in prisons, they also experience violence and erasure in the public sphere. Many Native American killings by law enforcement are underreported in the media. And when such killings are reported, Native American tend to be cast in a negative light. They are routinely defamed and denigrated, which influences whether or not law enforcement can be held accountability for a given death:

  • Criminality and deviance is often attributed to the victims

  • Emphasis is placed on the the victim as violent, wild, dangerous

  • Tendency to categorize “criminal” women as “sick”, “mad” or “disturbed”

  • All this defamation leads to a politics of marginalization that become integral to the operation of the criminal justice system—a politics that renders the killing of Native Americans justifiable

Sarah Lee Circle Bear’s killing fits the pattern of the overall narrative of police violence against Native Americans. Her death is a significant example of the ways that Native Americans are located in an invisible, marginalized, and belittled space where they can be eliminated by the state with impunity.


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