Unfair to the Innocent
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 hundreds of years ago. Racial profiling in America is one 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 started to show itself in cases of racial profiling. For example, in the article “ Ragtime, My Time” Alton Fitzgerald White was wrongfully accused for a crime and was arrested in the lobby of his home. 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 according to officer Carl Williams “It is most likely a minority group that’s involved.”(Color of Suspicion, 427) Because police look for drugs primarily among African-Americans and Latinos, they find an uneven number of them actually in possession of illegal drugs. Therefore these people are arrested, reinforcing the idea that drug trafficking is primarily a Latino or an 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.
One 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 fired in self defense. On Feb 4, 1999, after Diallo,22, reached for an object they thought 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. The officers were found not guilty on all charges. Diallo was just another black man that fit the profile of a drug dealer simply because he was black. In the case of Alton White, this similar situation occurred, fortunately for him he was not shot and was set free. He and three other black men were humiliated by being accused of being connected to a crime that they didn’t even fit the description of the two Hispanic men. “Everything from being handcuffed strip-searched, taken in and out of questioning, to be told that they knew exactly who I was and my responsibility to the show and the in fact they knew they already had whom they wanted, left me in absolute disbelief.” (Ragtime, My Time; 422). In many cases such as these innocent people like Diallo and Alton, have been victims of racial profiling.
Statistics have a great deal to do with racial profiling. Many officers have used the statistics provided to pull over someone. Statistics can’t always be a good source to follow. Although numbers don’t lie, there still may be some things missing that can be used to show there is a bias against minorities. “A police officer working at the Memphis International Airport testified that at least 75 percent of those followed and questioned at the airport were black.” (Road Rage, 424) However this fails to show how many of these people actually committed a crime and 75 percent could’ve been just three out of four people on one day but could’ve been a lot more white people that could’ve been followed the next.
Racial Profiling is a problem that needs to be addressed by the government and the people of America. On June 9, 1999, Former President Clinton addressed the nation about racial profiling. He ordered federal law enforcement officials to collect data on the race and gender of the people they stop to question or arrest. Clinton also had a discussion with the “Mexican leaders about their alleged harboring of identified drug traffickers…”(Road Rage, 424) However he didn’t talk to the European groups, why? Not only because statistics may have shown that Mexicans have more to do with drugs but also because assumptions are made that minorities or non-white people are more likely to cause crime. Certain steps should be taken in order to move toward a better nation. Law enforcement should discontinue pulling over people on hunches and use evidence to base their reasons for pulling someone over. They are stopping people because of their skin color and that is injustice.
More training is needed for law enforcement officials. No one really knows what a “standard procedure” is and therefore police officers can take advantage of that fact. “When I was asked how they could keep me there, or have brought me there in the first place with nothing found and a clean record, I was told it was standard procedure” (Ragtime, My Time 422). 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 people look suspicious. In these articles, it seemed as if the officers did not act with training but with suspicion and that has caused the humiliation and death of many innocent people. The Law enforcement needs to gain the trust of the community. Without trust the community will never feel as if they can go to the police or feel that justice will be served when they have been wronged. Innocent people are being arrested and even killed on suspicions and because they fit the status quo.
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 their 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.