Cory LewisEnglish 50Racial Targeting and Profiling The practice of targeting individuals for police investigation based on their race alone in the last few years has been an increasingly prominent issue in American society.
Numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals have explored the issue of race-motivated police actions. Recently, the ABA Journal did a study of New Jersey and Pennsylvania traffic stops from 1998 to 2001, concluding that black drivers were more likely to be pulled over and arrested than whites. The study also delves into the legal ramifications of the 1996 United States Supreme Court ruling in the Whren v. United States case, which held that police officers subjective motivation for stopping a motorist on the highway was irrelevant as long as a probable cause was present – such as a traffic violation existed for making the stop.
The Whren court decision validated the pretext stop, which occurs when police officers ostensibly stop motorists for traffic violations but are in fact motivated by the desire to obtain evidence of other crimes. Police officers, however, argue that racial profiling is common sense and is sensible, statistically based tool that enables them to focus their energies efficiently for providing protection against crime to law a-biding citizen. In Taylor and Whitney, a study investigating the existence of an empirical basis for racial profiling and crime, they concluded that society must acknowledge the statistics behind crime rates in order to understand the concept of racial profiling; such information is available in annual crime reports. Statistics are facts and numbers which cannot be disputed and provide the experiential basis for racial profiling.
The FBI Bulletin also addressed the necessity to consider statistics in addressing the issue of racial profiling. However, unlike Taylor and Whitney who argue for the use of statistics to support racial profiling, the FBI Bulletin promotes the usage of statistics in order to reduce and hopefully eliminate racial profiling. The FBI Bulletin states that if agencies were mandated to keep consistent statistical reports on the attributes and nature of their traffic stops, then racial profiling will not be as rampant. A written record of all traffic stops would do so by attributing individual responsibility to the police officers involved in such violations.
The issue of profiling, not only racial profiling is one that affects both the local and national levels. There are many different perspectives that people are taking toward the idea of race-motivated police traffic stops. The frequency of traffic stops among college students and whether or not race is a cause in such traffic stops has many other factors that that need to be taken into consideration, such as gender, age, vehicle, location, and attire. The issue of racial profiling in America is one of great importance to the future of American society.
This issue is not new to our society; racism and stereotyping are issues that date back to many years ago. Racial profiling in America is on that needs to be addressed by the government and society if we ever want America to truly be, The Land of The Free. One of the main examples of racial profiling is called DWB (Driving While Black). This is a term starting to show itself a lot in cases of racial profiling. This name is meant to be a shot at he already known DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). In todayfs society, the perception is that most drug traffickers are minorities.
This is very untrue. Racial profiling is based on the premise that minorities commit most drug offenses. Because police look for drugs primarily among African Americans and Latinos, they find an uneven number of them actually in possession of contraband. Therefore, these people are arrested, reinforcing the idea that drug trafficking is primarily a Latino or African American thing. At the same time, white drivers receive far less police attention; many of the drug dealers and users among them get away.
This just feeds to the perception that whites commit fewer drug offenses than minorities. This often results in the persecution of innocent people based on skin color. This also causes a huge distrust and minorities are less willing to cooperate. Driving While Black is not an issue that just arose its just now gaining a name.
The practice of racial profiling by our nations police is the consequence of the rising concern about the war on drugs. Drug use and drug selling are not limited to minorities in the US; in fact, five times as many whites use drugs. This war on drugs since it began targeted minorities. According to the governments own reports 80 percent of the country cocaine users are white and the typical cocaine user is a white middle class suburbanite.
However, law enforcement tactics are concentrated in the inner city. This continues to feed the perception that most drug dealers and users are black. This prompted the drug courier profile, with racial overtones to take hold. Media coverage of this issue has begun to increase in the last couple of years or so. In the past year, front-page stories and editorials have appeared in every major national newspaper and many local papers.
Even though media fascination with a problem does not make it real, lack of media coverage does not make a problem nonexistent either. However, because of the many stories and statistical reports, the lawsuits and even recent action by the government, make a good argument that, driving while black, is not just an occasional problem. Some of these stories are ridiculous there is so many cases its crazy. Racial profiling unbelievably is a big problem among the news media itself. When the media covers a story about drugs, they often show the black drug dealer, abuser, criminal, or the undeserving affirmative action recipient. When we look at the ways the national media has covered or failed to cover recent stories or studies we get a better understanding of the practice or racial profiling in the media.
In a recent poll taken by the child advocacy group Children Now the children included said that, the news media tends to portray African American and Latino people more negatively than white and Asian people. gMost of the major news media did not cover this story and the ones that did said, that the children were influenced by television newsh. (Media Blackface) News One of the major and most well known cases of racial profiling is the case of Amadou Diallo, where four white officers members of the anti street crime unit fired 41 shots at Diallo hitting him 19 times. The officers contended that they fired in what they though at the time was self defense.
Amadou Diallo was shot 19 times for reaching for his wallet not a weapon. Diallo was just another black man that fit the profile of a drug dealer simply because he was black. In Pennsylvania Johnny Gammage was pulled over while driving his cousinfs Jaguar. As Gammage pulled over five police cars arrived on the scene. One of the officers said that Gammage ran three red lights before stopping after the officer flashed his lights at him. The officer took Gammage out of the car and saw him grab something that was reportedly a weapon, but was his cell phone.
The officer knocked the phone out of Gammage hand and they scuffled. The other officers beat Gammage with a flashlight, a collapsible baton, and a blackjack as one put his foot on Gammage neck. Johnny Gammage died, handcuffed, ankles bound, facedown on the pavement shortly after the incident began. Again, this man was unarmed. Although the officers in both instances were punished, one must think if they were not officers would the punishment have been more severe, or if there were white officers would the punishment also have been more drastic. If the suspects in both instances had been suburban white males would the officerfs reactions been so dramatic.
Even former President Clinton recognized racial profiling within our police departments. gPresident Clinton called racial profiling by police, a morally indefensible deeply corrosive practiceh. (Clinton Associated Press) He also said that, gpeople of color continue to have less confidence and less trust, and believe they are targeted for actionh. (Clinton Associated Press)Clinton recounted that he once asked a group of black journalists if the police had ever stopped them and they all raised their hands. Racial profiling is a problem that needs to be addressed by the government and the people of America. The subject of racial profiling is not only a problem; it is an age-old disease.
This disease that has plagued America for a long time, and until we decide to grow up and get past stereotypical and bias views of other races and ethnic backgrounds, this problem will continue to exist with possible fatal results.