The Race Against Racial Profiling Essay
The great era of civil rights started in the 1960s, with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stirring “I have a Dream” speech at the historic march on Washington in August of 1963. At the same time Birmingham Police Commissioner “Bull” Connor used powerful fire hoses and vicious police attack dogs against nonviolent black civil rights activists. Although these years proved to be the highlight and downfall of civil rights in America, even with the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act being passed, time has repeated these tumultuous events again in the present.
Racial profiling has been one of many civil rights issues concerning the unnecessary stopping and arresting of people based on race, color, ethnicity and gender.
Skin-color has become evidence of the propensity to commit crime, and police use this “evidence” against minority drivers on the road all the time. This practice is so common that the minority community has given it the derisive term, “Driving While Black or Brown” – a play on the real offense of “driving while intoxicated”. Although many law enforcement officers defend themselves by saying they are fighting against the “War on Drugs” by arresting these law offenders, recent trials and reports show that no basis of arrest have been found against these minorities. Official skin-color prejudice is still reflected throughout the criminal justice system. Today, skin-color makes you a suspect in America. It makes you more likely to be stopped by a law enforcement officer, more likely to be searched, and more likely to be arrested and imprisoned.
Tens of thousands of innocent motorists on highways across the country are victims of racial profiling, and these discriminatory police stops have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. Fueled by the “War on Drugs”, this fight has given police a pretext to target people who they think fit a “drug courier” or “gang member” profile.
At many times, these minorities have been stopped and arrested for illegal offenses, however we are not sure if these stories have been filed truthfully by law enforcement officers. Many police departments face issues concerning racist law enforcement officers who cause the problems of racial profiling. One such example comes from the Hillside Police Department, where several racial bias charges have been made against them. Racial slurs have become common in the Hillside district, where even the department supervisor does background checks on minorities IN the squad, even to kick them off the squad.
In this department, only two officers are Hispanic and one is of African decent. The officers, many of whom are white, are encouraged to target minorities first to fill their ticket quotas for the month. Hillside officers defend themselves saying that Hillside is 40 percent black and 20 percent Hispanic. However, the actions taken by Hillside officer, such as targeting to fill quotas and background checking, seem disconcerting. The Reverend Jesse Jackson even needed to call for federal protection for whistleblowing police officers. Because of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act, passed this year, other officials who witness this discriminating act are protected.
It says, “The identity of a law enforcement officer who complains in food faith to a government agency or department about the unlawful practices of a law enforcement agency shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed by any person except upon the knowing written consent of the law enforcement officer. This section shall not preempt any right of confrontation protected by the Constitution of by Federal, State or tribal law.”
In many cases, we can not determine whether the racial profiling comes from the individual law enforcer, or the department itself. Many policies have been suggested to either report these discriminatory acts, or to record the ethnicity, race, or gender of the person being stopped. However, without the correct supervision of these officers, we can not truthfully tell whether these policies will be followed. There have been bills proposed to even make the slightest positive effect on racial profiling, yet many have been overlooked.
Former California Governor Pete Wilson served as best he could to fight key civil rights issues such as affirmative action and immigrant rights, however Governor Gray Davis has had a disappointing .