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Racial Profiling

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Racial Profiling

It's a Friday night and the sun has just begun to set. A group of well-dressed college age African Americans is heading out to the local restaurant to meet up with some friends. They get in the 2004 Ford expedition and drive off. Cursing along the road the driver notices blue and red lights in the rear view mirror. He quickly pulls over to the side of the road and rolls down his window. A Kentucky policeman pulls up behind them and gets out of his squat car; he then cautiously approaches the group while holding his right hand on the holster of his gun. Confused driver haven't thought he was speeding is asked to step out and put his hands on the vehicle. Not long after the officer gets the driver out of the car, two more police cars arrive. The passengers are then asked to join the driver outside of the car. With no delay the officers proceed to pull off the inside door panels and make incisions in the leather seats. They tell the driver that they are looking for drugs. In a state of helplessness, tears of anger roll down the driver's face. His father had just bought him the car as a reward for making the dean's list at his college for the third year in a row. After more dismantling of the vehicle, the driver with resentment demands to know why he got pulled over. One of the officers then turns around and says "D.W.B" after a slight pause adds on "Driving while black". The Kentucky police officers then ticket the puzzled furious driver and leave. Now sitting in his now barely recognizable SUV, he and his friends weep in anger. Many African Americans abuses are well documented, in the book Driving While Black by Kenneth

Meeks where the author shows many examples of abuse of racial profiling. Meeks talks about the New Jersey highway patrol and how anti-racial profiling activists have used the highway patrol in New Jersey as an example of how using racial profiling is a racist activity. In the book he gives the example of Samuel Elijah the black construction worker who was stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike while driving home from a job site in Willingboro. Samuel had been stopped for nothing and was run though a sobriety test which he passed.

It may seem impractical that incidents like this would occur to anyone, but this sort of behavior by the law enforcement officials happens everyday. "Some dismiss it as minorities attempting to gain sympathy..." (Rodney,King) but the incident described above should lead one to realize that racial profiling is real and very wide spread. Racial profiling occurs when the police accuse or target someone for investigation on the basis of that person's race, ethnicity, or national origin. This practice can be conducted with routine traffic stops, or can be completely random based on the car that is driven, or the number of people in the car and the race of the driver and the passengers. Racial profiling has been a part of the criminal justice system for a long time now, and is nothing new. The only reason why you hear a lot more about this topic is because the use of media has brought this very controversial topic to the public's attention a lot more than in the past. It's not until 1982 racial profiling sprung into existence with the kick off of Regan's War on Drugs, but it did however exist in various forms since the end of slavery. During reconstruction in the South, laws called "Black Codes" were created. These "codes"

made it punishable by imprisonment and indentured servitude for African Americans to loiter, be unemployed, be drunk, or be in debt. As you can see "Black Codes" were very obvious forms of racial profiling aimed at maintaining an unpaid labor pool in the South in the early post-slavery days.

"We were looking for a white van with white people, and we ended up with a blue car with black people." - Washington DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey on ending the search of the "Washington Area Snipers" Who are the victims? Today the victims of racial profiling are usually minorities meaning not really informed about the law. Statistics show that minorities are not only more likely to be stopped by the police, but also they are more likely to be pressured or intimidated into allowing the police to search their vehicles or personal belongings due to the fact that they feel the police is superior and the fear of disobeying an officer . In turn, they are also more likely to allow the searches. Crises of the Anti-Drug Effort, 1999, a report by Chad Thevenot of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation indicates that "Seventy-six percent of the motorists stopped along a fifty mile stretch of I-95 by Maryland's special



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