Analysis Of Mlk Jrs Letter From Birmingham Jail Religion Essay

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s was a time of great unrest. While the movement was felt across the south, Birmingham, Alabama was known for its unequal treatment of blacks and became the focus of the Civil Rights Movement. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, African-Americans in Birmingham, began daily demonstrations and sit-ins to protest discrimination at lunch counters and in public facilities. These demonstrations were organized to draw attention to the injustices in the city. The demonstrations resulted in the arrest of protesters, including Martin Luther King. King was arrested in Birmingham after taking part in a peaceful march to draw attention to the way that African-Americans were being treated there, their lack of voter rights, and the extreme injustice they faced in Alabama.

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King immediately strives to justify the need for nonviolent direct action through his statement, “Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary.” What is direct action? Direct action is a form of political activism which may include sit-ins, strikes, and demonstrations. King’s explanation to the clergymen for protesting segregation began with an explanation of their actions, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue”. In this case King was invoking the right of freedom of expression, not only freedom of speech but the freedom to assemble. The clergy and many of the citizens of Birmingham believed the demonstrations, sit-ins, and strikes, considered peaceful by King and his supporters, as a taunting and violation of the segregation laws in place in many of the southern states.
Within the first paragraphs of his letter King rebukes the many injustices of his people in Birmingham. King responded with dismay at the clergy’s reference to him being an outsider. King stated that he had a reason for being in Birmingham and he was not an outsider as the clergymen claimed. He responded with a profound statement, “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” King explained that his purpose for being in Birmingham was due to the injustices within the city. He continued by comparing himself to the eighth century prophets in that he too was carrying a message – the gospel of freedom. King explicitly compared himself to the apostle Paul whose travels were extensive in spreading the gospel of Christ. Just as Paul left Tarsus to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, King left Atlanta for Birmingham. He claimed that his job as a Christian minister was to attack injustice wherever it appeared. King’s imprisonment could also be compared to the imprisonment of Paul.
King answered the clergymen’s allegations that breaking the law was not the way to achieve the results – “Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that, an unjust law is no law at all”. King did not believe that they have broken the law. Kings response to the clergymen was that a law that is not morally sound is not a law. King’s statement supports the conservative theory of the Nature of Law in that law existed before man. The fundamental principles of law are to distinguish between that which is right and that which is wrong. Therefore, laws are made to protect the people not degrade and punish.
King defined just and unjust law as follows:
A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.
King wrote that a law could be just on the surface and unjust in its application. The example given was how he had been arrested on the charge of parading without a permit. He explained that there is nothing wrong in having a law which requires a permit for a parade, but that it becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens their First Amendment privilege.
King connected the nonviolent civil disobedience or unjust laws to the revolutionary arguments of Thomas Jefferson. King’s writings include, “…law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson argued that governments exist to protect basic human rights, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
King addressed civil disobedience, the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government or of an occupying power without resorting to physical violence, through his example of the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. Other examples of civil disobedience were incorporated into the letter. King wrote, “civil disobedience was demonstrated by the early Christians who were willing to face lions and the chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire.” King understood completely that his audience was not the clergymen alone. So, while appealing to the Christian and Biblical beliefs and principles of the clergy, he included non-Biblical examples of civil disobedience as well – Socrates and the Boston Tea Party.
King responded to the clergymen’s accusation that he was an extremist by countering with examples of extremists. King wrote, “Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Amos was an extremist for justice, ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.'” He continued providing examples of other extremists including the apostle Paul, Martin Luther, Abraham Lincoln, John Bunyan, and Thomas Jefferson.
King was concerned with the oppression of the African American. He continued by writing of the yearning for freedom of the African American. He wrote, “…the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice.” Using the analogy of the promise land was not accidental. The promise land was the Israelites land of freedom from their enslavement at the hands of the Egyptians.  King quoted Abraham Lincoln, “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free,” and Thomas Jefferson, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…”
Christianity played a major role in King’s response to the clergymen. He shared his disappointment with the church as a whole. King believed that he would find support for the cause of justice within the community of the church. He wrote of the strength of the early Christians and of their rejoicing for being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. He also wrote of the weakness of the contemporary church and the concerns he had about Christianity losing its meaning. King was so distraught over the actions of the church that he found himself asking, “What kind of people worship here?” “Who is their God?” And, while disappointed, he responded with statements of love and hope.
As King concluded his letter he shared his belief that the struggle for freedom would be won, not only in Birmingham but across the nation, because the black man’s destiny was tied up with the destiny of America and the goal of America is freedom.
King’s letter from the Birmingham jail inspired a national civil rights movement. The goal was to completely end the system of segregation in every aspect of public life (stores, separate bathrooms and drinking fountains, etc.) and in job discrimination. The enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that banned discrimination based on “race, color, religion, or national origin” in employment practices and public accommodations, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 reinforced the guarantees of full citizenship provided under the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments. The passage of these two acts marked the end of the Jim Crow system in the South. The desegregation of public facilities was swiftly implemented. With the enforcement powers of the federal government enhanced, the desegregation of public schools was also initiated.  

The Threat of Flash Flood to Birmingham, Alabama

 The threat of flash flood to Birmingham, Alabama


This paper discusses the threat of flash flooding in Birmingham, Al. I discuss the history and facts associated with flash flooding in Birmingham and the areas that are most likely to be flooded.

This paper goes over what goes into the planning process of preparing emergency plan for the community.


History of Hazard

Floods are one of Earths most common and most destructive natural hazards. Floods are not picky, they can happen in every state, territory and internationally. According to the National Geographic website, “floods do more than $6 billion worth of damage and kill about 140 every year.” There are different types of floods: river flood, coastal flood, storm surge, inland flooding, and flash floods. Flash flooding in Birmingham will be the focus of this paper. Flash floods occur when there have been heavy, excessive amounts of rainfall within a short timeframe. Flash flooding “occurs when runoff reaches its peak in less than six (6) hours, which usually occurs in hilly areas with steep slopes and sparse vegetation.” (Lindell, Prater, Perry, 2007) Over the years, Birmingham, Alabama, has had its share of flooding. (Figure1) According to Birmingham’s Flood Mitigation and Stormwater Management Plan, “between 1995 and 2003, there have been nine major flood events… two of which were Presidentially declared disasters.” The city of Birmingham is frequently affected by flash flooding due to rising creeks and rivers caused by storms and local flooding because of inadequate capacity and maintenance of storm drainage system. (Birmingham Flood Mitigation and Stormwater Plan, 2004) According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it rains approximately 53.99 inches yearly in the city. The probability of flooding increases in the spring because additional rain causes the rivers and creeks to swell. The city of Birmingham, Alabama, is the largest populated city in Alabama with 212,237 people. It is situated in the valley of the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Birmingham, Alabama lies in the middle and on the borders of The Black Warrior river basin and the Cahaba River basin, both sub basins of the Mobile River Basin. Birmingham Flood Mitigation and Stormwater Plan say that the “general flow of groundwater is westward away from the higher points in the city” this groundwater goes into the Black Warrior and Cahaba rivers.

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Birmingham has ten (10) watersheds: Cane Creek, Valley Creek, Turkey Creek, Five Mile Creek, Village Creek, Little Shades Creek, Shades Creek, Big Black Creek, Cahaba River, and Little Cahaba River. Some part of each watershed is located within a 100-year flood plain. A watershed is a land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt into creeks, streams, and rivers that eventually go to outflow points such as reservoirs, bays and the ocean, according to NOAA. The watersheds condition is an important factor in how local waterways proceed during storms.  Valley Creek, Five Mile Creek, and Valley Creek watersheds are located in a highly urbanized area. These areas are more prone to flash flooding and have suffered repetitive flooding events in the past. These watersheds have been developed into residential areas, cityscapes including The University of Alabama Birmingham and Birmingham International airport. Urbanization of areas contributes to flooding due to replacing grass, trees, etc. with hardscapes, which impermeable materials such as asphalt. “Previously saturated areas or land covered by impervious materials, such as asphalt, will produce higher runoff rates, contributing a larger volume of water reaching the local waterways.” (floodplain management, 2019) Since Birmingham is a flood-prone area, the city joined the National Flood Insurance Program in 1981, which is a federally backed insurance program, its mission is to help reduce the impact of flooding on communities.

Principles and Planning

Because of historical flooding and recent flooding events in Birmingham, the city has taken a more comprehensive approach to flood mitigation and stormwater management. 

In order to involve the community in preparedness, emergency managers should coordinate with the people, businesses and local government within the communities that are affected by flooding and other disasters.

As mentioned, Emergency Managers should work with the community to involve them in planning for disaster(s) and preparing a preparedness program. The people who have something to gain or lose in a disaster are called stakeholders. Stakeholders fall into three categories: social, economic, and government groups. The

social group is comprised of a neighborhood association, homeowners, renters and other groups formed within the community. The economic group consists of local businesses, public utilities, and telecommunications. Government groups are police/fire departments, hospitals, city council, FEMA etc. These groups help in many different ways throughout a disaster.

 To prepare the community for a disaster, Emergency managers should try and get representatives from the community that is affected and works together to formulate a comprehensive plan. 

In our textbook, chapter 3 goes over the planning process. Step one: planning activities, Step two: Provide a positive work climate, Step three: Analyze the situation, Step four: Acquiring resources, and Step five: Choosing a strategy. First, you will need to organize stakeholders to discuss a plan of action. Involve the community, community leaders, homeowners, businesses etc. You will need to coordinate with other agencies, i.e. FEMA, fire/police departments, National Weather Service (NWS), Unites States Geological Service (USGS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Public utilities, city government, Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) among others. Next is assessing the hazard/disaster. In this case history of flooding, gathering maps of flooded areas, real-time data, reasons for flooding (hurricanes, severe weather, etc. Risk Assessment is next this is a broader, more in-depth assessment of the previous. In Birmingham’s Flood Mitigation and Stormwater plan the following are what they lay out under the risk assessment category: “Overall summary of each hazard identified in the hazard assessment and its impact on the community. Description of the impact that the hazards identified in the hazard assessment have on life, safety, and health and the need and procedures for warning and evacuating residents and visitors, Description of the impact that the hazards identified in the hazard assessment have on critical facilities and infrastructure. Identification of number and types of buildings subject to the hazards identified in the hazard assessment. A review of all properties that have received flood insurance claims or an estimate of the potential dollar losses to vulnerable structures. “description of areas that provide natural and beneficial functions, such as wetlands, riparian areas, sensitive areas, and habitat for rare or endangered species. Description of development, redevelopment, and population trends and a discussion of what the future brings for the development and redevelopment in the community, the watershed, and natural resource areas. Summary of the impacts of each hazard on the community’s economy and tax base.”  Next is setting goals to be accomplished and discuss the goals with other team members. Finally, adopt the plan, revise and implement.

Community Planning and Preparedness


Department of Homeland Security defines emergency preparedness as “a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action in an effort to ensure effective coordination during incident response.”

It’s never too late to prepare for potential disasters whether for ourselves or as a community.

Here are the steps to take in preparing a Community Preparedness Plan:

Take Action and Prepare Now:

Arrange meeting with leaders in your community. These are church leaders, fire and police chiefs, city and county counsel members, neighborhood watches, local emergency management agency, business owners, homeowners, renters, hospitals, public utility companies, anyone who has a stake in your community.

In this meeting discuss what goals that need to be accomplished and set an agenda for meetings. For example, attend emergency preparedness meetings, find volunteers within the community, make homeowners and renters aware of flood insurance programs by sending out mailers, making cold calls, or even door to door.

Secondly, make sure the community is aware of the warning systems. Every member of the community should know the different types of warnings there are for each weather-related event. Do they know where the public shelters are? Are there pet shelters available? Have a plan prepared for pet owners so they will evacuate. Is there enough information on evacuation routes for the different communities involved?

Is there a plan for special needs community? (seniors, disabled, blind etc.) Is there a database of special needs community members within the community? This database would make it easier for emergency management professionals and first responders to make sure these individuals are not forgotten.


Subject: Proposal for Emergency Preparedness Plan

Dear Community Members:

As you are aware, Birmingham has had our fair share of flooding issues. We are inundated yearly with a total amount of 53.99 inches of rain. Resulting in the flooding of our neighborhoods and municipalities.

We have had nine (9) major floods events between 1995-2003 and this not including our more recent events. Two of the nine (9) floods were major enough for the president to declare it a disaster.

Not only does this hurt our fellow community members it also damages our economy. When a flooding event happens, our businesses are forced to close losing money for days, weeks and sometimes longer. This is not good for our economy.

I propose for us to join together and prepare an Emergency Preparedness Plan for our beautiful community.

Together we can put our heads together and come up with a strategic plan of action to lessen the impact on our neighborhoods and business communities.



Figure 1: this shows flood inundation in Birmingham Al

Development of Multi-Agency Approach to Prevent Knife Crime in Birmingham

Knife crime, in Birmingham has been said to be at crisis point; in the West Midlands alone, knife crime has increased by approximately “85% since 2012” (West Midlands Police Violence Reduction, 2019). The West Midlands police is the second largest police force within England covering regions including, Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.
Three Yards’ is the title of this project with its aims and objectives including;

To develop a multi-agency approach, ensuring working with the appropriate partnerships.
Begin developing an appropriate strategy for those involved in knife crime, including both victims and offenders.


To establish a carefully constructed initiative in the hope of reducing knife crime within the young male BME communities in disadvantaged areas in Birmingham.
To protect those deemed vulnerable to knife crime within society.

Whilst the Crime Survey for England and Wales reports a stability on overall crime within the UK, individual crime types which are “less frequently occurring but higher-harm types of violence” (Elkin, 2019) such as knife crime are increasing, with most of these offences occurring in London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester. The House of Commons Library (2019) report on current knife crime in England and Wales, highlights that the extent of the problem is increasing: offences started to decline from the years 2010/11 until 2013/14 before rising again for the past five years. The extent of knife crime in Birmingham has been referred to by David Jamieson, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for the West Midlands as a state of “national emergency” (Parveen and Halliday, 2019). Parveen and Halliday (2019) reported that official data suggested violent crimes has increased “four times faster in Birmingham than in London” and between the months of April and September 2018, “Birmingham’s murder rate per capita was higher than London’s”. In 2018 alone an estimated “700 children in the West Midlands police area were victims of knife crime” (Cook, 2019), indicating that, Birmingham has hit an epidemic. Overall, knife crime in England and Wales has increased by 42% since the year 2010/11 (House of Commons Library, 2019). It has been estimated in a BBC London’s knife crime hotspots revealed report (2019) that to every 10,000 people in Birmingham there are 15.1 knife crimes committed, showing a 1.4 growth between 2016 and 2018.
Since the beginning of 2019, Birmingham has seen 269 stabbings; the most media focused stabbings were of three teenage males stabbed to death in Birmingham suburbs within days of each other. Eades et al., (2007) reports that young people- most likely young males, those living in disadvantaged areas, and identify as a member of black and minority ethnic communities – are affected by knife crime at a larger degree. It is argued that the BME communities are largely “disproportionately concentrated in deprived areas” (Eades et al., 2007) meaning this particular community is more at risk of becoming a victim to knife crime: as an offender or victim of the crime itself.

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Many police professionals believe that the rise in knife crime results from the cuts and underfunding of the police force across the nation; Chief constable- Francis Habgood, stated: “its common sense that a reduction in the number of police officers was linked to knife crime” (, 2019). An issue that the initiative may face, is the lack of resources available to the stakeholders, due to government cuts on the public sector. The UK is seeing moral panic around the issue of knife crime.
An issue that may further the problem is fear amongst young people: fear of gangs and crime itself, as they lean on knife use to keep them safe. Previously, knife crime was commonly associated with gang-related issues; however, it is now estimated that “75% of those caught have no connection to gangs” (Ashmall, 2016). Although this is still a prominent issue in major cities, it is not the biggest cause of the increase in knife crime, essentially making it harder for police forces to know who to tackle. Social media also has a part to play. Simeon Moore, an ex-Birmingham gang member of the famous Johnson Crew gang, and police chief Cressida Dick have both highlighted the importance social media can have leading up to fatal events. Labhart, (2019) drew on Simeon Moore’s opinion that “before, things could take a few days or even weeks to happen, now social media helps it [knife crime] spread, it facilitates it.” Whilst Cressida shares the opinion, that social media “revs’ people up” (, 2019). To reduce moral panic appropriate solutions must be identified; the government and society need to bring the issue into appropriate perspective. Strategies must include partnerships outside of government legislation and the police force for proper implementation to begin and have an effect.
Whilst the Crime Survey for England and Wales provides a clearer indication of overall trends in violent crimes – allowing for good measures of more common but less harmful offences, police recorded crime offers a better measure of more harmful but less common offences. Such offences are not well-measured by the survey because of their rather low volume. Therefore, although the Crime Survey for England and Wales is generally the most reliable indicator of crime levels as is takes on a left realist approach, discovering real experiences through victims, police recorded crime is a more valuable source for measuring such trends regards such crimes.  
The responsibility for knife crime being a complex societal deep-rooted issue cannot fall solely on one agency. Therefore, the challenges within developing and delivering an initiative can be difficult and cannot be engaged and implemented through one force of authority. Multi-agency policing methodology to tackling crime is now “strongly embedded” (Berry, Briggs, Erol & van Staden, 2011) into society, thus, knife crime will not be stopped within the West Midlands unless all agencies come together as one partnership. For a long-term change we need the community, local authorities (youth offending teams), education services and the police force, to come together and prevail knife crime.
Parveen and Halliday article (2019) draws on data which revealed a rise in the number of sharp weapons being confiscated at schools and colleges in the West Midlands. The article also highlighted that in 2016 there were 77 documented occurrences of knives being taken on to school grounds, whilst in 2017, a slight decrease of 65 recorded instances. Partnerships between the police and schools/colleges remain crucial in the reformation of the generation of today’s children, thus, engaging with schools and colleges is paramount in the education and reduction of knife crime. To ensure this partnership works to the best of its ability, it is key that both stakeholders purpose a team within the school who can identify the signs of those most at risk of becoming an offender or victim to knife crime. Lamont, Macleod & Wilkin, (2011) report strategic and multi-agency preventative work benefits not only themselves, the school and the pupils but also the community in a number of ways, including; an increased capability to reach young people at risk, improved relationships and stigma around the police and young people as well as being “exposed to positive role models”. For instance, encouraging young people to stay at school, reducing truancy and eventually leading to reduced offending and the community having “less negative views of young people”.
Additionally, having schools and colleges working with local authority youth offending teams (YOTS) and the police will reflect the needs of those most at risk of knife crime; YOTS usually work closely with schools, police and the community. The Ministry of Justice, (2013) reported YOTS’ key aim is the prevention of “offending by children and young people” as well as constantly developing different approaches to tackle crime. Resultantly it would benefit meeting with other agencies to ensure the ability to share data and intelligence in regards of working together to come up with the best possible outcomes. Labhart, (2019) reported, David Jamieson, the PCC for the West Midlands police, believes the answer lies in “providing more opportunities for young people in disadvantaged areas” suggesting in guidance with the community, the police, schools and local authorities need to think about creating more “divisionary schemes and activities” to deter young people from violence.
A multi-agency approach acts as a response to national policy initiatives with the potential to reduce the prevalence of crimes, allowing space for specifics; for example, tackling specific crimes – and helps with the identification of “at risk” children and young people through providing shared information of the services.
South Yorkshire police have implemented a knife crime strategy in order to tackle the problem particularly across Sheffield. Its initiative sets out to work with the public sector and takes on a social crime prevention and community-orientated policing approach; the strategy bases off the identification of “at risk” groups and individuals. Evidently, some are more apparent to commit crimes than others based on socio-economic disadvantages. This initiative implements targeted interventions such as working with schools to apply school-based interventions. Due to resources and funding, the initiative tackles areas in which knife crime is prevalent, facing schools in those “problem areas” by reducing the circumstances that create crime, an approach supported by left realist criminologists. Social crime prevention focuses on causations of crime, mostly economic and social issues within society. This prevention strategy requires community orientated policing, involving  the engagement of the offenders and victims in numerous community-based actions, consistently bringing together children, young people and some marginalised groups within the community. This builds community-based relations, such as, connections between schools, community centres etc. However, Labhart (2019) reported David Jamieson, admitted funding and the closure of social clubs is a reason for increased crime as “there’s nothing for these kids to do”; suggesting the answer to the knife crime problem lies in offering more opportunities for young people in disadvantaged areas. Therefore, social crime prevention could centre on making those who are at risk of offending feel more reckon within their community; an example of this is creating more youth social clubs.
Although there are many benefits of South Yorkshire’s policing strategy, a focus of their initiative is ‘stop and search’. The use of stop and search within the UK is fundamentally flawed and has had media attention towards the dispute of it being abused by police officers towards members of the public, majority being of ethnic minorities. In practice, stop and search essentially comes down to instinct rather than evidence led. Smith (2016) reported Diane Abbott voicing her concern that “There are clear signs that some communities are being disproportionately targeted,”.
Data revealed those who identify as part of the BME community are three times more likely to be stopped and searched compared to their white counterparts. However, due to the rise of knife crime, both Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott have voiced support for resurrecting the policy- if it’s evidence-based or used effectively. Evidence implies that increased stop and search has insignificant impact on the levels of violent crime. On the contrary, the discriminatory use of stop and search has been the turning point in the relationship between the police and ethnic minority communities from disadvantaged areas. Thus, damaging the relationship of the community the initiative intends to serve. Another critique of the initiative is the focalisation on it being predominantly led by the police force rather than a divided responsibility rate between all stakeholders, meaning this could lead to a lack of communication between well thought out partnerships. 
Defining success and effectiveness within police strategies depends upon many factors: evidence-based policing, offending and reoffending rates and the abilities of the partnerships to work together as a collective. To assess the effectiveness of a police initiative is to assess whether the community it is aimed towards has seen change since the implementation. Since the release of Sheffield’s initiative; “Operation Fortify” there has been a 12% decrease in the number of knife crimes within South Yorkshire. Suggesting, since the introduction of the initiative, it has been successful in its aims and objectives of reducing knife crime within the city particularly with young males, implying stakeholders have been working together as a collaborative.
The ‘selling’ point of this initiative towards the public will focus on the need to tackle knife crime within the younger generation. Research suggests that
Since 2008, the police have used social media to engage with the public. Webster (2013) highlights that social media allows for development of relationships with communities, as well as demonstrating the ‘human’ side of policing, essentially displaying “legitimacy, enhancing trust and confidence of the public by the communities” (Fernandez et al., 2017). Social media allows for effective communication between the police and the public; since 2018, 90% of the adult population are regular internet users. Ofcom (2019) reported that on average, 70% of adults between the ages of 25-75 have their own social media profiles, whilst 94% of 16-24-year olds have their own social media profiles. This suggests that for most of the public, news is quickly accessible to them through their electronic devices rather than the more ‘traditional’ buying a newspaper to receive information.
The effectiveness of the police using social media to communicate with the public has been a topic of controversy. However, the Police Foundation, (2014) essentialise on the fact that they can provide safety advice, raise awareness on potential criminal activity, and support public to minimise risk as well as being able to communicate information during serious occurrences and to prevent any ‘rumours’ from circulating, leading to misinformation. Accenture (2012), draws on how the public feel towards social media being used to engage with the public- “47% of respondents believe social media can be used to prevent crime.” Using a wide range of networks such as social media ensures the start and involvement of a ‘conversation’ to start between the public and the police.
Knife crime in Birmingham is a growing problem, particularly within BME communities. Decreased funding and social media are partially to blame but cannot be found solely responsible. A multi-agency approach to prevent knife crime similar to that of South Yorkshire police can protect those vulnerable to knife crime, alongside the use of social media by the police to counteract the damage the quick spreading of misinformation can cause.

Accenture. (2012) Are Police Forces Maximizing Technology to Fight Crime and Engage Citizens? The Accenture Citizen Pulse Survey on Policing. Retrieved from:
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Berry, G., Briggs, P., Erol, R., & Van Staden, L. (2011). The effectiveness of partnership working in a crime and disorder context [Ebook] (p. 1). Retrieved from
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Eades, C., Grimshaw, R., Silvestri, A. and Soloman, E. (2007). ‘Knife Crime’ A review of evidence and policy. 2nd ed. pp.23-24.
Elkin, M. (2019). Crime in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Nov. 2019].
Fernandez, M., Dickinson, T. and Alani, H. (2017). An analysis of UK Policing Engagement via Social Media. In: G. Ciampaglia, A. Mashhadi and T. Yasseri (Eds.). Social Informatics (pp. 289–304). New York: Springer.
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Webster, R. (2013) Social media to show the human side of policing.  Retrieved from:


Rhetorical Devices Used in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Analysis of Rhetorical Devices Used in Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
On April 12, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting without a permit. Soon after, eight clergymen wrote a letter entitled, “A Call for Unity,” which was addressed to King. The letter asserted that Dr. King’s protests should end because they promoted “hatred and violence” (Murray 2). In this letter, the clergymen condemned King, labelling him an “outsider,” whose intentions were to stir up trouble in Birmingham (Murray 1). Dr. King responded to their accusations with his own letter, which came to be known as, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” A seminal text of the Civil Rights Movement, King’s, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism, justifies the measures that brought about his arrest, and asseverates that the segregation laws against blacks in the south must be repealed. In his letter, King brilliantly employs the rhetorics of ethos, pathos, and logos to effectively convey his letter to his audience and gain the support needed for the Civil Rights Movement.

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In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” he implements rhetorical appeals to ethos to denote his credibility on the subject of racial injustice and discrimination. His letter starts with, “My Dear Fellow Clergymen,” (King 1). With this address, King immediately institutes his status, placing himself on the same level as the clergymen, allowing them to infer that he is not beneath them, and they are not above him. He proceeds saying, “I am here because I have organizational ties here. But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here” (King 1). With this opening, King begins to establish his credibility on matters relating to injustice. Furthermore, he establishes himself as a respectable individual in alluding to his “organizational ties” in Birmingham, suggesting he has a high standing in society. King’s quote, “because injustice is here,” demonstrates his eagerness to fight against injustice for his people, thereby warranting his need to be in Birmingham. Shortly after, King says:

 I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently, we share staff, educational, and financial resources with our affiliates. (King 1)

Introducing himself to the clergymen in this manner is a clear utilization of ethos as Dr. King demonstrates his intellect on the subject of injustice and racial discrimination, showing that he may be more qualified to speak on this matter than the clergymen. Moreover, it serves to prove his eminence as a respected member of the United States of America.
King forces the reader to sympathize with the suffering black individuals in America have undergone through his use of pathos. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines pathos as, “an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion” (Pathos). Through his disturbingly vivid descriptions of violence and brutality against African Americans, King exposes the reader to the injustice and cruelty which he has both witnessed and experienced. This allows audiences to understand the suffering which King is combatting and empowers readers to side with King’s actions as opposed to the clergymen’s. With regard to the clergymen’s claim that the Birmingham police officers were maintaining order and averting violence, King contends, “I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the policemen if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes” (King 5).  The imagery used in this quote perfectly inscribes King’s memory into the reader’s head. The words and phrases, “sinking their teeth,” “unarmed,” and “nonviolent,” force the audience to recognize the senseless brutality of the policemen. From this quote, readers come to understand the depravity of the so called “protection” the police force claims they are offering to the community. King’s appeal to pathos continues as he proposes that racism and discrimination affect all those who live with it in saying, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” (King 1). This puts forth an emotional appeal that everyone, regardless of their race, is worse off due to the existence of injustice. When one group of people is being oppressed, the population as a whole suffers. Success and progression are both compromised by the existence of segregation. Knowing the threat segregation and racism pose to the advancement of their society, audiences may feel more inclined to foster societal change. As a result of King’s use of pathos, readers become more sympathetic toward King and the millions of others of whom he speaks on behalf of and are also more liable to agree with the points he makes.
King further appeals to pathos in detailing the persecution African Americans have endured. This is seen in lines such as, “When you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters…” (King 2 ). In utilizing parallelism, King intensifies his writing and coerces his audience into feeling what his friends and family experience. Moreover, he forces his audience’s sympathy with his incendiary language, evoking agonizingly graphic images into their minds. The combination of these two appeals to pathos causes the audience to understand King’s position along with the pain and hardships that lead him to his position. 

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In order to persuade the clergymen and citizens of America to side with his arguments, Martin Luther King Jr. presents sufficient appeal to logic and reason. To accomplish this, King uses logos. One such appeal can be seen early on in the letter where he writes, “There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in this nation. These are the hard, brutal, and unbelievable facts” (King 1). In asserting indisputable facts that demonstrate the unrestricted use of violence in Birmingham, King not only enhances his credibility, but also adds depth to his argument as a whole. Dr. King continues to justify his cause for nonviolent protest through appeals to logos. One such appeal is seen on page three of his letter where he questions the meaning of a “just law” and cites examples in which laws were unjust. King writes, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers” (King 3). In this quote, King Jr. puts forth a compelling example of how laws can be unjust, discussing that it was illegal to help a Jewish person in Germany during Hitler’s rule, and how he would have handled such immoral laws had he been there. This allows the clergymen to think of what they would have done. Likening the treatment of African Americans in the United States to the atrocities committed against Jews in Germany during Hitler’s rule, King makes the clergymen consider the morality of their actions. King then justifies what the clergymen described as “extremist” actions by instancing times throughout history in which “extremist” actions changed society for the better. He questions, “Was not Jesus an extremist for love… was not Amos an extremist for justice.. was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel… was not Martin Luther an extremist… and John Bunyan… and Abraham Lincoln… and Thomas Jefferson” (King 4). This quote is extremely effective as Jesus, one of the individuals which he mentions, had an enormous impact on the lives of the clergymen toward whom the letter is targeted. By referencing important figures such as Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson, King reasons that if those people were in the right, he is too. This appeal serves to show that if those who were known as “extremists” in their time were later renowned for their contributions to society, “extremist” actions are not always wrong and can even bring about important, positive change.
Throughout his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. establishes his credibility, appeals to the emotions of his readers, and uses logic and reason, all to persuade his audience to agree with his argument and assert the necessity of immediate action against the oppression of African Americans. The letter’s sense of urgency and call to action are provided by King’s use of pathos. His descriptive language, personal accounts, and incorporation of ethos and logos provide for a powerful, well-rounded argument. King successfully reveals the horrors behind the trials black individuals in America have experienced and demonstrates that what he and other civil rights activists are battling for is a noble cause both legally and morally. This is all done to achieve Martin Luther King Jr.’s primary objective–the galvanization of America to strive for a world of equality and justice for those under persecution.
Works Cited

King Jr., Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Atlantic, Apr. 2018, pp. 74–83. EBSCOhost,
Murray, George M, et al. “A Call for Unity.” Received by Martin Luther King Jr. , 12 Apr. 1963,
“Pathos.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,