Racial Profiling: Finding ways to stop the Madness
Did you know that in 2015 an unarmed man by the name of Walter Scott was gunned down by a South Carolina Officer? In the incident the victim Walter Scott was stopped by Officer Slager for having a non-functioning brake light. Then Scott fled from his car, causing the responding officer to chase Scott on foot resulting in many shots to be fired. Slager fired more shots into Scott then needed and that brought in questions of him shooting him just to shoot. The result of the incident was Slager getting sentenced to 20 years for committing second degree murder to Scott. In this corrupted world today, racial profiling is what you hear most on the news dealing with law enforcement. Racial profiling is the use of race or religious characteristics as a way for officers to stop and search cars, rather than having reasonable suspicion.
Racial Profiling isn’t something that has just started. Through history, we can see examples of it occurring back in the 1700’s. Around that time freed slaves were stopped predominately based on their race, to prove that they were legally free. Many times they were harassed and beaten by patrol officers that worked hard at hunting down escaped slaves. After the Civil war, segregation laws were created which kept African Americans and whites frim using the same public facilities. This racial division caused a lot of tension between people of color and police officials. These laws were created to cause a legal division, but they were later overturned by the Fourteenth Amendment. In today’s time the laws have shifted for African Americans and other minorities. Segregation and slavery no longer exist and they both are illegal, however racial profiling continues to roam.
“In July 2009, Henry Louis Gates Jr., an African American professor at Harvard, was arrested at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after he forced open the jammed front door” (Gale 2015). The officers reason for arresting him was because he assumed that Professor Gates was breaking and entering. Professor Gates later called the officer out on a count of racial profiling. He was arrested in his own home because he was a black man that appeared to be using force entry.
As a minority in any situation no one is protected against racial profiling. From the different police shooting such as Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, or even Samuel Dubose. These victims were shot for reasons that could have been avoided and taking care of appropriately. Primarily racial profiling, has caused a negative outlook on minority and immigrant communities across the world, and it should seriously end. I believe that racial profiling should not be used because, police abusing their power a lot causes these situations to happen causing more heat to the name of a police officer. Also, because it’s a sign of discrimination and it leads to major consequences.
Racial Profiling to some may appear to be a useful law enforcement tactic, however it can be considered as a form of discrimination. In fact, it even challenges the constitution. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution states “that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” (Schott, 2001). According to the above amendment any search or seizure must be reasonable and justified by facts. Therefore, if an officer is pulling someone over based on race or ethnicity they are wrong.
Racial Profiling should not be used, because it is causing a divide between our Law Enforcement and Local Communities. People no longer have respect for officers the way they did in the past. Frequent debates and community out reaches are occurring as citizens grow angry over the profiling that is occurring against their loved ones in this day and age. Countless times on social media you may see people expressing their feelings towards Law Enforcement. “The phrase “driving while black” comes from African Americans complaining that they are pulled over by police officers for no reason other than the color of their skin.”( Gale,2015). Very often on tv you see law enforcement officers in a shooting or killings. When law enforcement does something good it doesn’t make the news but when a shooting happen is when it goes worldwide. The news is what is also what is breaking up the relationship between law enforcement and the community. The news is what draws the attention towards the law enforcement officers watching every move. In todays world the news only wants to hear and tell what sounds good to the community. There are times when law enforcement officers did something good in the community and the news only tell certain parts of the story just to give the police department half credit.
Another reason why racial profiling shouldn’t be used is because it leads to serious consequences. A simple traffic stop, based on color of a persons skin, can lead to physical harm and even the loss of a life. People who have been targeted by officers as a form of racial profiling may have gone through a mental depression or have changes in their behavior. These changes would include switching up travel routes, changing to a simple vehicle, or even discontinuing driving. In some cases, victims of racial profiling may even relocate. In certain community’s officers may be worst on racial profiling. For example, in majority African American neighborhoods patrol officers may be more prone to racial profile. In addition, a police officer or security guard’s reputation can put on the line once they are called out about it. The media loves to interrogate officers after they have been exposed for racial profiling. It has a negative outlook on the officer and his/her loved ones. Also, it also can lead to serious consequences with the police agency. When Racial Profiling is discovered in the police department it is carefully investigated. The body cams that are worn today by police officers are to help monitor what officers are doing. There have been times in other agencies where police officers were terminated or suspended for the racial profiling of other citizens. These types of problems can turn bad and could put your whole police department in trouble.
Racial Profiling isn’t strictly African American citizens vs white police officers. Many Muslim and Latino groups are also profiled. Ever since 9/11, officers have been seriously targeting Arabs and Muslims based on the assumption that they are dangerous. This is a common fallacy of composition as officers who are racially profiling these individuals are putting them in same category. This is like saying what is true of part, is true of the whole. Therefore, if the all of the terrorist on 9/11 were Muslim, then all Muslims that come to America are terrorist. This logical way of thinking is not okay, and that is what officers are doing as they single out these individuals based on appearance. I know that its better to be safe then sorry, but everyone must remember that America is home of the free and everyone has equal protection against discrimination under the law.
Also, police officers aren’t the only officials that racial profile. In today’s world, neighborhood watch guards, security officers, and Airport security are doing it. Countless time Muslims have been stopped and repeatedly searched before boarding a flight. Now that people see law enforcement getting out of situations such as shootings they tend to try the same thing and end up in jail. Such as the story of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin visiting his dad, when a 28 year old neighborhood watch George Zimmerman reported a suspicion to the police in the neighborhood. Trayvon martin was walking back home from the store when Zimmerman started following martin while on the phone with police. The neighborhood watched stated he was assaulted by martin while following him and feared for his life and resulted in shooting and killing martin. ” He apparently told police that Trayvon assaulted him and that he used his gun in self-defense, leading to a police decision not to arrest or charge Zimmerman in Martin’s death”(Simon, 2012).
So much has happened in the news, with racial profiling that even former President George W. Bush had something to say about it. “In his February address to Congress, President George W. Bush reported that he’d asked Attorney General John Ashcroft “to develop specific recommendations to end racial profiling. It’s wrong, and we will end it in America.” (Callahan, Anderson)”. When higher up officials began to voice their opinion on things, there must be something wrong with it. Bush is a noble man and his opinion validates that racial profiling is not a good source for law enforcement to be using.
As stated before racial profiling must come to an end. Racial Profiling is hurting our community as it is causing a division between people of color and Police Officers. In addition, there are many physical and emotional consequences that come behind it. Too many minorities are being targeted stopped or arrested based on the color of their skin. Its time for law enforcement officers, security guards, and the law to be done the correct way. It up to all law enforcement officers to give the news something to talk about. Officers must put an end to discrimination and begin targeting people on evidence based information. If there is reasonable evidence of someone being suspicious, then its acceptable to go after them. However, it’s not alright to use racial profiling. Police officers need to come up with a way to get the trust back from the communities and get the good name back in law enforcement.
1.Jarvie, Jenny. “Ex-Officer Gets 20 Years in Killing.” Los Angeles Times, 08 Dec, 2017, pp. A.6. SIRS Issues Researcher,https://sks.sirs.com.
2.Schott, Richard G. “The Role of Race in Law Enforcement.” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (U.S.Federal Bureau of Investigation), Nov, 2001, pp. 24-32. SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.
3.”Racial Profiling.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints In Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/PC3010999266/OVIC?u=horrygtc;sid=OVIC;xid=b5cb574f. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.
4.Jonathan Simon, “Whose Public Safety? Trayvon Martin and Neighborhood Watch,” Governing Through Crime (blog), March 2012. Copyright © 2012 by Jonathan Simon.
5. Gene Callahan and William Anderson, “The Roots of Racial Profiling: Why Are Police Targeting Minorities for Traffic Stops?” Reason, August/September 2001. Copyright © 2001
6. Ex-officer Michael Slager pleads guilty in shooting death of Walter Scott.” CNN Wire, 2 May 2017. Opposing Viewpoints In Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A491017120/OVIC?u=horrygtc&sid=OVIC&xid=539a2cfd. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.