Racial Profiling Essay

Racial Profiling Essay

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Rahsaan DeLain Senior Paper Mrs. Carlo The issue of racial profiling in America is one of great importance to the future of American society. This issue fairly new, in terms of being recognized is old in its ways. 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 today’s society the perception is that most drug traffickers are minorities. This is very untrue. Racial profiling is based on the premise that most drug offenses are committed by minorities. Because police look for drugs primarily among African Americans and Latinos, they find a uneven number of them actually in possession of contraband. Therefore these people are arrested, reinforcing the idea that drug trafficking is primarily an 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’s cocaine users are white and the “typical cocaine user is a white middle class suburbanite.”(Harris 7) But 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,”(Harris 7) 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 doesn’t make it real or lack of media coverage doesn’t make a problem nonexistent. But 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 absolutely ridiculous there are so many cases its crazy. Racial profiling believe it or not 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 advocay 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. Most of the major news media did not cover this story and the ones that did said,” that the children were influenced by television news.” (qtd in media blackface 4) On of the major and most well known cases of racial profiling is the case of Amadou Diallo. Four white officers members of the anti street crime unit fired 41 shots at Diallo hitting him 19 times. The officers contended that they they fired in self defense. On Feb 4, 199, after Diallo,22, reached for an object they though was a gun while he was standing in the vestibule of his apartment. The object turned out to be his wallet. All four officers were charged with second degree murder as suspended from there jobs. The officers said that Diallo darted into the entrance of his building and took a combat stance. He pulled out what they perceived as a weapon and opened fire on him. The officers contended that Diallo’s death was a tragic case of self defense. Charges against them said that they violated department policies could still result in there firing. They jury of four blacks and eight whites deliberated for more than 20 hours over three days before returning the verdict. Not guilty on all counts, 24 in all, from murder to reckless endangerment.(associated press 1) This case, when I heard about it and heard the facts I thought for sure that justice would be served. They shot an unarmed man 19 times and it just seemed to me like that was way too many times. He didn’t fire back and didn’t charge at them. It seems that they could have shot him once or twice to wound him and take him in. They found bullet wounds at the bottom of his feet so he must have been lying down. This whole case really disturbs me because the officers could have taken a different action and this man would still be alive today. The punishment I think should have been would be for them to be fired and spend some time in jail. Diallo was just another black man that fit the profile of a drug dealer simply because he was black. There was also another case that caught my eye. In Pennsylvania Johnny Gammage was pulled over while driving his cousins 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 told Gammage out of the car and saw him grab something was reportedly a weapon, but was his cell phone. The officer knocked the phone out of Gammage’s 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’s neck. Johnny Gammage died , handcuffed , ankles bound , facedown on the pavement shortly after the incident began. Again this man was unarmed. This issue has also been addressed by President Clinton. On June 9, 1999, he ordered federal law enforcement officials to collect data on the the race and gender of the people they stop to question or arrest. President Clinton called racial profiling by police a , morally indefensible deeply corrosive practice.”(Clinton associated press 1) He also said that , “ people of color continue to have less confidence and less trust , and believe they are targeted for action.”(Clinton associated press 1) Clinton recounted that he once asked a group of black journalists if they had ever been stopped by the police and they all raised there hands. Racial Profiling is a problem that needs to be addressed by the government and the people of America. I believe that there are certain steps that should be taken in order to move toward a better nation. I feel that law enforcement should stop stopping people on hunches and use evidence to base a stop on. The are stopping people because of there skin color and that is not right. For example in 1997 on a California highway out of 34,000 cars stopped only two percent were found with drugs. The Traffic Stops Statistics Act needs to be passed because it will require that all law enforcement collect data on there traffic stops, including race of the driver. This will give concrete proof that the percentage of people being stopped are minorities and they are not the majority carrying the drugs. I also believe that more training is needed for law enforcement officials. There obviously is a problem with the current procedures that police officers are taking. Better or more training should be given to better educate police officers on how and what to do when they are suspicious. Many of the cases I read it seems that the officers did not act with training but with suspicion and that has caused the deaths of many innocent people. The last step I think is to for law enforcement to gain the trust of the community. Without this the will never feel like they can go to the police or feel that justice will be served when they have been wronged. Innocent people ared being arrested and even killed on suspicions and because they fit the profile. While this is going on average white guys like Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walk the streets about to kill somebody and they are never suspected because they are white. In conclusion, racial profiling is a national problem that is lessening the trust in the people who are supposed to protect us. Everyday people of color are scared to do what most people do without a second thought, drive to wherever they need to go. Our country can no longer remain the leader of the world in freedom and democracy when its people are identified as criminals simply because of there skin color. We cannot afford to ignore this issue any further we must take action to ensure that this country is truly a free one.

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