Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
The relationship between the police and African Americans has been fraught for some time. In the 2010s, amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the relationship between African Americans and the police was marked by serious tensions including racism, White privilege, and perceptions of police brutality. The purpose of this case study was to explore the current relationship between the police and the Black Lives Matter social movement and assess movement activists' perceptions of police actions. The theoretical framework for this qualitative case study was based on procedural justice and the reason of actions component of Derrick Bell's critical race theory. Data for this study included more than 1,000 social media postings from Facebook and Twitter; 205 public documents, which included police interactions, incident reports, and interviews; and 25 observations from public gatherings between 2013-2016. Data were coded into a priori themes and then content analyzed. Findings indicated that the Black Lives Matter movement generally increases the tensions in the relationship between the police and African Americans, creating emotional strain due to activists' messages of racism, White privilege, and violence. Recommendations included expanding open communication with the police, providing more training for the police, and encouraging police officers to control their actions when having interactions with African Americans, all of which may result in positive social change. The study findings provided a blueprint for community policing in minority communities.