K-9 abuse

The news is out: [A Salt Lake City officer has been suspended after body camera footage showed the arrest of a Black man who was repeatedly bit by a K-9. The man, Jeffrey Ryans, has signaled his intention to sue the police department over the arrest that he called unnecessary and excessive.]

These public exhibitions of racist, interspecies violence continued today.

In Germany, Adolf Hitler celebrated the “German shepherd” breed as a symbol of Aryan nationhood as it patrolled Nazi concentration camps. Even after the Third Reich fell in the mid-1940s, European colonists used shepherd breeds like the Belgian Malinois and German shepherd to suppress Black resistance across the globe. Colonial police forces in apartheid South Africa and Zimbabwe used these dogs to intimidate and subvert the activities of anti-colonial activists, and British colonials in Kenya even imported police dogs from South Africa to suppress the Mau Mau Rebellion in the 1950s.

In the United States, the German shepherd was celebrated as the quintessential “police dog,” and it became a notorious tool of state violence as it attacked peaceful Black protesters throughout the South. By 1963, White Americans witnessed these police dogs attacking African American protesters during the “Birmingham Campaign” led by civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth. Media venues and news stations captured and distributed images of dogs lunging and biting at young protesters.

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