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Police brutality is a term used to describe the excessive use of physical force, assault, and verbal attacks and threats by police officers. Widespread, systematic police brutality persists in some countries with authoritarian governments, corruption, or ineffective judicial systems. Individual incidents of police brutality occur in most or all countries, even those which actively prosecute and successfully punish such activity. Brutality is one of several forms of police misconduct, which include false arrest, intimidation, racial profiling, political repression, surveillance abuse, sexual abuse and police corruption.

Police brutality with respect to certain social groups can in some cases be disproportionate or be perceived to be disproportionate. Differences in race, religion, politics, and economic status between police and the citizenry can contribute to the creation of an antagognistic relationship in which a significant portion of the population view the police as oppressors and a significant number of the police view the population as deserving punishment.

Various community groups have addressed police brutality and have worked to engender change in police behavior in their communities. These groups often stress the need for oversight by independent citizen review boards and other methods of ensuring accountability for police actions. A U.S.-based network of organizations that actively monitors and videotapes the police to prevent police brutality is Copwatch. Umbrella organizations including the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation and justice committees (usually named after a deceased individual or those victimized by police violence) usually engage in a solidarity of those affected.

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