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Still others argue without apology that making disproportionate s of traffic stops of African Americans and other minorities is not discrimination, but rational law enforcement. But as one officer learned, such "honesty" can be a dangerous counterpoint to official denials of profiling. Carl Williams, New Jersey's Chief of Troopers, was dismissed in March by Governor Christine Todd Whitman soon after a news article appeared in which he defended profiling because, he said, "mostly minorities" trafficked in marijuana and cocaine.
Williams' remarks received wide media attention at a time when Whitman and other state officials were already facing heightened media scrutiny over gifl incidents of profiling and public anger over police mistreatment of black suspects. Whitman and her attorney oht, Peter Verniero, recouped from Williams' remarks somewhat when they issued a statistical report on April 20,acknowledging that the problem of racial profiling is, as Verniero put it, "real, not imagined. The court had lambasted the "utter failure by the State Police hierarchy to monitor and control As events in New Jersey demonstrate, even when faced with a lawsuit, statistical evidence from independent experts, public pressure and intensive news coverage, officials in law enforcement and government are not eager to acknowledge the problem of racial profiling.
The ACLU believes that addressing the problem will require a multi-faceted effort. Our state affiliates and other civil rights advocates have brought lawsuits based on showings of discrimination by law enforcement agencies, but legal girrl is only a beginning; these cases are always difficult, long-term efforts that take considerable resources and plaintiffs of unusual fortitude. For instance, a lawsuit filed in Oklahoma earlier this month on behalf of SFC Gerald and his son may take years to resolve.
Legislation at the federal and state levels and local voluntary efforts can advance the momentum to collect accurate data on the problem and rein in overzealous — and sometimes illegal — law enforcement practices. Fighting crime is surely a high priority.
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But it must be done without damaging other important values: the freedom to go about our business without unwarranted police interference and the right to be treated equally before the law, without regard to race or ethnicity. And unless we address this problem, all of us — not just people of color — stand to lose. Drug use and drug selling are not confined to racial and ethnic minorities in the U. But the war on drugs has, since its earliest days, targeted people of color.
The fact that skin color has now become a proxy for criminality is an inevitable outcome of this process. The latest escalation of the war on drugs was declared officially inwhen It is totally unacceptable to engage in racial profiling of any kind. We're proud of the record we have. It is really shocking that our department would be singled out as some kind of test case.
The primary mission of the Task Force was to intensify air and sea operations against drug smuggling in the South Florida area, but it was not long before the Florida Highway Patrol entered the fray. The emergence of crack in the spring of and a flood of lurid and often exaggerated press s of inner-city crack use ushered in a period of intense public concern about illegal drugs, and helped reinforce the impression that drug use was primarily a minority problem.
While the experience of being black in america varies tremendously, there are shared cultural factors that play a role in defining mental health and supporting well-being, resiliency and healing. black/african american
Enforcement of the nation's drug laws at the street level focused more and more on poor communities of color. In the mid- to lates, many cities initiated major law enforcement programs to deal with street-level drug dealing. The goal of these inner-city efforts was to make as many arrests as possible, and in that respect, they succeeded. Nationwide, arrests for drug possession reported by state and local police nearly doubled fromin toin Comparable figures for arrests for drug sale and manufacture rose fromin toin Minorities were disproportionately represented in these figures.
According to the government's own reports, 80 percent of the country's cocaine users are white, and the "typical cocaine user is a middle-class, white suburbanite. Thus a "drug courier profile" with unmistakable racial overtones took hold in law enforcement. The profile, described by one court as "an informally compiled abstract of characteristics thought typical of persons carrying illicit drugs," had been used in the war on drugs for some time.
ByMarkonni's drug courier profile was in use at over 20 airports. The characteristics of the Markonni profile were behavioral. Did the person appear to be nervous? Did he pay for his airline ticket in cash and in large bills? Was he going to or arriving from a destination considered a place of origin of cocaine, heroin or marijuana? Was he traveling under an alias? In the s, with the emergence of the crack market, skin color alone became a major profile component, and, to an increasing extent, black travelers in the nation's airports and found themselves the subjects of frequent interrogations and suspicionless searches by the DEA and the U.
Customs Service. These law enforcement practices soon spread to train stations and bus terminals, as well. Sometimes the discriminatory nature of profile stops and searches was so blatant that judges took notice. In the early s, one New York City Criminal Court judge, in dismissing the charges against an African American woman who had been stopped and searched in the Port Authority Bus Terminal, wrote: "I arraign approximately one-third of the felony cases in New York County and have no recollection of any defendant in a Port Authority Police Department drug interdiction case who was not either black or Hispanic.
That year the agency launched "Operation Pipeline," a little known highway drug interdiction program which has, to date, trained approximately 27, police officers in 48 participating states to use pretext stops in order to find drugs in vehicles. The techniques taught and widely encouraged by the DEA as part of Operation Pipeline have been instrumental in spreading the use of pretext stops, which are at the heart of the racial profiling debate.
In fact, some of the training materials used and produced in conjunction with Pipeline and other associated programs have implicitly if not explicitly encouraged the targeting of minority motorists.
The consequences of these law enforcement practices and sentencing policies are painfully evident today in the demographics of our prison population. According to an April report prepared for the U. The African American proportion of drug arrests has risen from 25 percent in to 37 percent in Americzn and African American inmates are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be incarcerated for a drug offense.
WHREN v. The constitutionality of pretexual traffic stops — using a minor traffic infraction, real or alleged, gkrl an excuse to stop and search a vehicle and its passengers — reached the U. Supreme Court in in a case called Whren v.
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Let qfro make this crystal clear. The Maryland state police has not ever, does not ever and will not ever condone the use of race-based profiling. It's against the law, and it will not be tolerated. In its friend-of-the-court brief, the ACLU argued that pretextual searches violate the core principles of the Fourth Amendment, and warned that to sanction such searches was to "invite discriminatory enforcement.
In practice, the Whren decision has given the anerican virtually unlimited authority to stop and search any vehicle they want.
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Every driver probably violates some provision of the vehicle code at some time during even a short drive, because state traffic codes identify so many different infractions. For example, traffic codes define precisely how long a driver must al before turning, and the particular conditions under which a driver must use lights.
Vehicle equipment is also highly regulated.
A small light bulb must illuminate the rear plate. Tail lights must be visible from a particular distance. Tire tread must be at a particular depth. And all equipment must be in working order at all times. If the police target a driver for a stop and search, all they have to do to come up with a pretext for a stop is follow the car until aeeking driver makes an inconsequential error or until a technical violation is observed.
Since Whren, the Court has extended police power over cars and drivers even further. In Ohio v. Robinette, the Court rejected the argument that officers seeking consent to search a car must tell the driver he is free to refuse permission and leave. Maryland v. Wilson gave police the power to order passengers out of stopped cars, whether or not there is any basis to suspect they are dangerous. And in Wyoming v. Houghton, decided on April 5,the Court ruled that after the lawful arrest of the driver, the police can search the closed purse of a passenger even though she had nothing to do with the alleged traffic infraction and had done nothing to suggest involvement in criminal activity.
In the past year, front- stories, editorials and columns have appeared in every major national newspaper and countless local dailies. The phrase "driving while black," used with bitter familiarity for years in magazines and newspapers targeted for African Americans, can now be found in the s of Esquire, Newsweek and TIME. Of course, media fascination with a social problem does not necessarily make it "real," any more than lack of media coverage makes it nonexistent.
But the dozens of stories in the press and on the airwaves, combined with the statistical reports, the lawsuits, and recent legislative action, make a powerful argument that "driving while black" is not just an occasional problem.
It's time for our national leaders to realize that this is not about a few "bad apples. The following stories are just a small sampling: In Arizona, the Phoenix New Times told the story of Larrel Riggs, a year-old marketing executive who was pulled over on a highway by two officers from the Scottsdale Police Department in The police demanded to see his driver's and registration.
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gkrl When Riggs handed over the documents, he gilr told to wait in the car. Then, instead of walking back to their car in the normal way, the officers slowly backed away from Riggs, watching him, hands on their guns. The entire process had taken about a half-hour, and Riggs was so badly shaken that he couldn't sleep that night. It was nerve-racking. They looked like they'd have pulled their guns if I'd so gorl as sneezed.
The officer said that Lee was stopped because girp was driving a vehicle that fit the description of one stolen earlier that evening. However, Lee was driving a Jeep Cherokee, a sport utility vehicle, and the reportedly stolen vehicle was a Honda sedan. Source: San Diego Union Tribune Intwo officers in police cruisers followed George Washington and Darryl Hicks as they drove into the parking garage of the hotel where they were staying in Santa Monica.
The men were ordered out of the car at gun point, handcuffed and placed in separate police cars while the officers searched their car and checked their identification. The police justified this detention because the men allegedly resembled a description of two suspects being sought for 19 armed robberies and because one of the men seemed to be "nervous. The payment settled a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of people stopped between August and August on I between Eagle and Glenwood Springs, none of whom were ticketed or arrested for drugs.
One of the plaintiffs, Jhenita Whitfield, who is black, said she and her sister, who is in the Navy, were stopped May 5,while driving through Eagle County afrp San Diego with four small children. She said she was told that she failed to al properly before changing lanes. The deputy then asked to search her car. She consented. The kids were hungry and one had to go to the bathroom. I figured, let's do it and get the hell out of here.
Most prominent, perhaps, was the disclosure last year of a memo seeikng the chief of an all-white police force in Trumbull, a suburb of Bridgeport. In the memo, Chief Theodore Ambrosini advised officers of a series of armed robberies in town and urged them to take the offensive. On Mother's Day ina Trumbull police officer stopped Penn as he drove in a lut through this predominantly white, suburban town, and asked to see his and registration.
As the officer gave the back, he asked Penn if he knew which town he was in. Bridgeport, the state's largest city where blacks and Hispanics comprise 85 percent of the population, borders Trumbull — which is 98 percent white. I wanted glrl know what difference that made,'' Penn said, gil how he got lost and was turning around on a dead-end street when the officer blocked his van with a patrol car. Trumbull, which is now under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice, is not the only Connecticut community to experience profiling.
In suburban Avon, for example, amerifan police officers corroborated the existence of the long-rumored "Barkhamsted Express," a slang term for the xmerican stopping of black and Hispanic motorists traveling through town from Hartford to the Barkhamsted reservoir. The stop ended with him being wrestled to the ground, hit with pepper spray and arrested. It turned out that Campbell was a major in the Metro-Dade Police Department and had identified himself as such when he was pulled over for an illegal lane change and having an obscured tag.
Seekinh Campbell, "The majority of people they are searching and humiliating are black people. That's why I was so angry. I went from being an ordinary citizen and decorated officer to a criminal in a matter of minutes. David Smith, an African American police officer, was pulled over while driving an unmarked car in the City of Carmel in Smith was in full uniform at the time, but he was not wearing a hat which would have identified him as a police officer.
According to a complaint filed with the ACLU, the trooper who stopped Smith appeared to be "shocked and surprised" when Sgt. Smith got out of the car. The trooper explained that he had ouut Smith because he had three antennas on the rear of his car and quickly left the scene. The officers, who claimed they were looking seeling a truck like his, made Wheat get out of his vehicle while they searched it and ran warrant checks. When a black officer recognized Wheat, tensions eased and the officers let him go.
Source: The Courier-Journal In Maine, the Portland Press Herald last year reported that the city's minority residents feel the pressure of police bias. In a front- article, the newspaper told the story of Michael Stovall, a year-old lawyer who passed a aerican officer going in the opposite direction on a ametican street and watched as the patrolman did a U-turn and pulled up behind him.
Stovall was followed for amreican blocks while the officer spoke into his radio.
Finally, the newspaper said, the patrolman left, leaving Stovall to wonder. Another African American, Judith Hyman, said girll was stopped by a Portland police officer while driving on a city street with her son, who is black, and his girlfriend, who is white. People said I should speak out, but this is a general thing for many people.
It was so humiliating.
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I figured if I said anything, if I moved, that would just give them permission to beat me. And I did not want that to happen because I have a little boy. The troopers searched their car and brought in drug-sniffing dogs. During the course of the search, their daughter's wedding dress was tossed onto one of atro police cars and, as trucks passed on I, it was blown to the ground.
Carter was not allowed to use the restroom during the search because police officers feared that she would flee. Their belongings were strewn along the highway, trampled and urinated on by the dogs. No drugs were found and no ticket was issued. The Carters eventually reached a settlement with the Maryland State Police. Source: The Daily Record InNelson Walker, a young Sewking man attending college in North Carolina, was driving along I in Maryland when he was pulled over by state police who said he wasn't wearing a seatbelt.
The officers detained him and his two passengers for two hours as they searched for illegal drugs, weapons, or other contraband. Finding nothing in the car, they proceeded to dismantle the car and removed part of a door panel, a seat panel and part of the sunroof. The officers found nothing and in the end handed Walker a screwdriver, saying, "You're going to need this," as americann left the scene. For example, it is possible that an African American woman who believes that living sseeking psychological pain is Seeking faro afro american girl wfro her role as a strong Black woman might not perceive her pain as a health threat or seek treatment.
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