Why I Am Against Racial Profiling in Law Enforcement
This paper defines racial profiling by law enforcement which includes security guards and pilots, because they have some limited law enforcement power. It incorporates a brief history starting in 1514 with King Charles 1 of Spain racial profiling Native Americans (“Requerimiento, 1514” n.p). It illuminates the impact of the Ku Klux Klan on law enforcement from 1866 to the modern era (Sherman, 2018). It repeatedly demonstrates racial profiling by local law enforcement using stop-and-frisk starting with the case in New York City (“Floyd v. New York”, 2013). Examples of the enormous financial cost of stop-and-frisk from jurisdictions around the country will also be disclosed. In the instances of security guards using racial profiling, local law enforcement was called in before those profiled were released (Pilarski, 2019) and (Miller, 2019). Additionally, included is racial profiling of Muslims at airports and racial profiling by other federal agencies. Laws starting with the 14th Constitutional Amendment in 1868 (Transcript, n.d.), more recent court decisions against stop-and-frisk and finally going through to today with an antilynching bill recently passed by the United States House of Representatives (Russ, 2020) entitled the Emmett Till Antilynching Act (Sonmez, 2020) will be discussed. Because lynching often results in murder, I have always thought it was always against the law, but these laws were generally not followed (Sherman, 2018). I am against racial profiling by law enforcement, because it is most importantly unethical and immoral, but also expensive and illegal.
Keywords: Ku Klux Klan, law enforcement, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk
Why I am Against Racial Profiling in Law Enforcement
I am against racial profiling by law enforcement at all levels of government and additionally by both security guards and pilots, because they have some law enforcement authority. I would also like to mention that racial profiling it is against the spirit of the 14th Amendment. There is no point in profiling certain racial, ethnic and religious groups and it has in fact been proven counterproductive. Not everyone believes it to be unethical. None the less racial profiling is unethical, illegal, expensive, and immoral.
Definition of Racial Profiling
According to “Racial Profiling and Biased-Based Policing Information” (2017) racial profiling is when you target certain persons because of racial, ethnicity or national origin rather than targeting individuals for specific reasons. Racial profiling is not when the police use a racial component with other isolating features to chase or stop a suspect.
One general example is for the police to stop Hispanic or African American drivers for minor traffic violations (Fletcher, 2019). Another example is when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Officers stop people of Middle Eastern descent which happened particularly after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center (Huus, 2011).
Brief History of Racial Profiling
According to “Requerimiento” (n.d) in 1514, King Charles l of Spain decreed that Native Americans would be persecuted unless they converted to Catholicism and became subjects of Spanish rule. According to “Slavery and the law” (n.d.) in 1669, Virginia passed a law stating that masters may legally kill their slaves. In an original letter Grinn (1761) there were instructions to acquire healthy young men and teenage boys as slaves from Senegal and sale them in South Carolina.
After the Civil War the 14th amendment was enacted in into law in 1868 giving citizens “equal protection of the laws” (“Transcript of 14th Amendment,” n.d.). This law was not fully enforced. One of the major problems was racism still existed as it has from the time of slavery.
Part of the problem was that racism also existed in law enforcement with the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) contributing to the problem (Sherman, 2018).
The Impact of the Ku Klux Klan on Law Enforcement
According to the “Constitution and Laws of the Knights,” (n.d.) the KKK was started in 1866, one year after the Civil War ended. The declaration of this document seems to have reasonable ideas with the creed advocating for the belief in God, Jesus Christ and the federal government. “Constitution and Law of the Knights,” (n,d.) also proclaims “be true to the maintenance of White Supremacy.” Found in the “Constitution and laws of the Knights” (n.d.) while being set up like the military group, the KKK excludes racial minorities, Jews, Catholics, Non-Protestants and people born in other countries. Many people at the time believed in these principles and unfortunately some still do.
It is a fact that the KKK was involved in lynching African Americans with the knowledge of law enforcement officers in the 1800s and continuing into the 20th Century. (Sherman, 2018). Killing is illegal, morally reprehensible and the worst form of racial profiling!
Stop-and-Frisk in New York City (NYC) and Its Consequences
According to “Floyd v. New York” (2013) a class action lawsuit involving stop-and-frisk against NYC was filed in the “United States District Court Southern District” on “June 16, 2013.” Stop-and-frisk has been in the news lately, because former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who advocated NY Police Department’s policy is running to be elected by the Democratic party for president. He apologized for this procedure prior to announcing his
candidacy (Becket, 2019). Mr. Bloomberg in front of a mainly Black Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn said he made his mistake by initiating the policy and keeping it in place so long (Becket, 2019).
Report by Bump (2016) NYPD officers using stop and frisk were allowed to stop and search people for unclear reasons and then arrest them if sometime illegal was found. There were a number of problems with this policy. One was it has no effect “on the number of robberies and burglaries” (Bump, 2016). Also, according to Bump (2016), it had no effect on murders or violent crimes. However, the worst effect was on people of color with almost a third of the people being stopped and searched were Latino and more than half were African Americans. This was clearly a case of racial profiling!
Additionally, reported by Bump (2016) there was a previous settlement of a lawsuit in 1999 saying that African American New Yorkers were unfairly targeted and in which it was discovered that superior officers were shamelessly telling were telling police officers to target African Americans and Hispanics. Unfortunately for Mayor Bloomberg in a radio interview in 2013 he believed that more nonwhite individuals needed to be targeted, because they were more a problem than Caucasians when it came to committing crimes (“Mayor Bloomberg,”2019). This of course was proven to be untrue and makes Mr. Bloomberg sound like a racist.
Reported by Smith (2013) according to the next Mayor of NY, Bill de Blasio, almost 90% of those who were stopped and searched were young men of color. Mr. de Blasio ran on a platform of stopping the policy saying it was racial profiling. He obviously won the election and being against stop-and-frisk was likely one of the reasons.
Reported by Margolin and Katersky (2013) “United States District Judge Shira Sheindlin declared in a 198-page ruling that stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional” indicating the stops were
based on race. Katerdky (2013) continued with the fact that both NYC’s Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg disagreed with Judge Sheindlin ruling and promised to appeal the decision. City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who was also a Democratic mayoral candidate declared victory upon hearing the decision.
Reported by “NYPD chief” (2013) NYC’s Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly was highly critical of the Democratic candidates and the future Mayor Blasio politics regarding stop- and-frisk during the mayoral race stating they were “pandering”. Denying both the polls and feeling there was a majority of minorities were not against stop-and-frisk, Mr. Kelly felt that he was in the right. Mayor Blasio promised to fire the police commissioner.
The decision by Judge Sheindlin was appealed. According to “Federal appeals” (2013) the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals consisting of three judges delivered a 5-page ruling that refused to throw out the lower court’s decision, but said the city could ask this court to appoint a new judge in a lower court for the resolution of the case. However, incoming Mayor de Blasio planned to order the city to drop its appeal. The stop-and-frisk policy as indicated by “Stop-and-frisk” (2020) asserted nearly 90% of those stopped had not committed a crime.
Reported by Colvin (2014) Mayor Blasio, true to his word, ended the stop-and-frisk policy and dropped NYC’s appeal of the lower court that stated it was unconstitutional and that Mayor Bloomberg’s administration engaged in racial profiling. To ensure the police department would follow the ruling, a monitor would be appointed for a three-year term. Ultimately, stop-and-frisk proved to be unconstitutional in NYC, because it was racial profiling. NYC's Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly who was for stop-and-frisk lost his job. This is just one example in just one city of the time and enormous cost, both financial and in loss of dignity, that racial profiling takes.
Modern Day Examples of Racial Profiling and Its Cost
According to “Parents settle suits in son’s death” (1998) on October 12, 1995 in Brentwood, Pennsylvania an African American man named Jonny Gammage, age 31 was stopped by the police while he was driving a Jaguar. He was beaten to death as seen by a witness. None of the five police officers involved were ultimately punished. However, Mr. Gammage’s family received 1.5 million dollars in a legal settlement against the police officer and their departments.
So, over the years in cities of different sizes and under different circumstances African American men are killed by or were allowed to be killed by Caucasian law enforcement officers who receive no punishment for these killings.
There are reports of racial profiling by police in other cities as well. For example, according to “New Mexico” (2020) a Black woman law enforcement officer for Immigration and Custom Enforcement, Sherese Crawford, was stopped 3 times on Hwy 40 near Albuquerque, NM within the same month in 2017. All 3 times, all charges were bogus. Twice, she was accused of passing on the right, but police dashcams showed this was not true. Once her rental car via her license plate was reported stolen, but that was proven to be untrue. Is it not ironic that law enforcement officers were stopping a law enforcement officer?
The article “New Mexico” (2020) goes on to reveal that only 2.6 % of the state of New Mexico's population is African American however, they account for 17 % of the stops on Highway 40 in the first 7 months of 2017. Ms. Crawford received $100,000 settlement from the sheriff's office for the 3 bogus traffic stops, because she was racially profiled. Although this person received some financial justice what about the other African Americans who are stopped
for no reason? What about the embarrassment and humiliation perpetuated on these individuals?
Racial Profiling by Security Guards
Reported by Miller (2019) after being on the job for 20 years, Lawrence Township Deputy Constable Daryl Jones in Indianapolis, IN lost his job after racial profiling. While working as a security guard at Nordstrom Rack, he followed 2 African American men, Aaron Blackwell and Durell Cunningham out of the store to their car after they had made many purchases and asked them for their drivers’ license and threatened them. The suspects refused and questioned why they are were being asked to show their licenses.
Additional reporting by Miller (2019) found Officer Jones told Mr. Blackwell and Mr. Cunningham they were asked for their licenses “because you’re acting suspicious” (Miller, 2019). After the men asked for his supervisor, Officer Jones called for backup, and an officer from Indiana Metropolitan Police Department showed up. After the police consulted, the men were free to go. After Mr. Jones supervisor, Lawrence Township Chief Constable Terry Burns saw the video tape of the incident, he fired Mr. Jones. Nordstrom Rack follow suit and fired him, too.
While racial profiling continues to exist in Indianapolis as recent as 2019, Constable Burns gets kudos for firing Mr. Jones. Mr. Blackwell and Mr. Cunningham get kudos for bravely sticking up for their rights in an incident that should have never happened to begin with.
Racial profiling continues in the Midwest as well. Reported by Pilarski (2019) on July 24, 2019 an African American man named Terrance Westmoreland “said he was a victim of racial profiling after he tried to return blinds to the Wauwatosa Home Depot” (Pilarski, 2019) in Milwaukee County. Continuing with Pilarski (2019) it happened while he tried to return and
exchange window blinds. Even though Mr. Westmoreland had a receipt the, loss prevention officer accused him of stealing window blinds saying he did not walk in with any window blinds.
Additionally, according to Pilarski (2019) when Mr. Westmoreland asked to see the video proving he walked in with the blinds he was refused he therefore called the Wauwatosa Police. At the conclusion of the police consulting with the desk clerk, he was not arrested or accused of a crime, but The Home Depot banned him from the store. Two days later, the district manager called Mr. Westmoreland to apologize and lift the ban from the store.
Also, according Pilarski (2019) Mr. Westmoreland, who was a business owner and member of a loyalty program at the Home Depot, felt humiliated and was not satisfied because the incident negatively affected his business. He was seeking compensation for lost jobs and the embarrassment he experienced. The Home Depot publicly apologize for the incident, but the damage to Mr. Westmoreland's reputation had already been done.
Ms. Pilarski (2019) continues to report that in 2016 citizens of Wauwatosa organized a group led by Lynne Woehrle, to focus on racial issues. On June 4 the Wauwatosa Common Council establish an inclusion commission. Both Mr. Westmoreland and Mr. King Rick, an original member of the Milwaukee Black Panthers, who was an advocate for Mr. Westmoreland support this initiative as a beginning to dialogue about racism in Wauwatosa. However, Mr. Rick said in effect that the commission must take action and not just talk. Yet, racial profiling sadly continues by security guards in retail America in 2019 and likely even now.
The Financial Costs of Stop-and-Frisk
Racial profiling in addition to being unfair is costing American cities big money. According the “Associated Press” (2018) in a stop-and-frisk lawsuit Milwaukee, WI agrees to pay $3.4 million without acknowledging wrongdoing. This will save Milwaukee millions of
dollars by not continuing litigation. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin on behalf of 6 persons who said they were stopped at least once if not more than once since 2010. It was found that between 2010 and 2017 that Milwaukee Police Department made traffic stops or pedestrian stops 350,000 times for which there was no reason stated.
That is more than one stop for every two people in the City Milwaukee. Of course, some people were stopped multiple times. Reported by the “Associated Press” (2018) African American citizens were stopped in traffic or as pedestrians at a rate 6 times higher than that of their Caucasian counterparts. Of the $3.4 million, $1.9 million goes to the 6 people who brought the lawsuit and to attorney fees with $1.5 million going to a manager to monitor Milwaukee Police Department’s improvements in identifying racial profiling and dealing with the officers involved. Milwaukee City Alderman Michael Murphy hoped, “the settlement would improve community relations, especially for people of color” (“Assiciated Press,” 2018)
I am actually surprised that racial profiling costs this amount of money. Hopefully, this settlement will solve help the problem of racial profiling by the Milwaukee City PD, but that is yet to be seen. The other hope is that it will begin to heal the effects of racial discrimination.
Reported by “Police settle” (2017) still another big settlement payout by made by a city for racial profiling. The city of Colorado Springs, Colorado is forced to pay out $212,000 to two brothers because of racial profiling by the police officers.
Reported by Billups (2015) in 2011 the Miami Police unfortunately and unnecessary shot and killed Travis McNeil resulted in a payment of $1.25 million in 2015. Here is what happened. Mr. McNeil was only guilty of a minor traffic violation and had no gun, which the officers knew. Unlike a regular traffic stop, three unmarked police cars surrounded his vehicle and he was apparently killed in a one-sided shootout where he was armed only with a cell phone.
The US Department of Justice had determined the police officers used excess force. The US Department of Justice reviewed the Miami Police Department, because this was the last shooting of African Americans in a series of shootings. This may not eliminate all racial profiling and end all shootings of African Americans by the police, but hopefully it will help.
Billups (2015) continued to report in Cedar Creek Florida in 2010 Danny Beckham was paid $575,000 in after being tased during a simple traffic violation. Mr. Isaac Singletary, who was 80 years old, was shot and killed by Jacksonville Police while trying to protect his property from drug dealers. The police were undercover as drug dealers. The city of Jacksonville, FL ended up paying $200,000 for the loss of Mr. Singletary's life.
In yet another case in Arizona as reported by Capelouto (2014) the court decided that Maricopa County will need to pay $22 million for the next year and a half and then $10 million a year after that for overseeing the elimination of racial profiling in the sheriff’s department, because Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s department was not enforcing immigration laws of Latinos, but were racial and ethnic profiling.
Racial Profiling by a Pilot and/or US Agents
Next to be discussed is racial profiling at airports, which will include airplane pilots, law enforcement officers and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers. Pilots are included in this list, because they have the legal authority to have passengers removed from a plane prior flight.
According to Huus (2011) Muslims have been stopped in airports multiple times by the TSA and then questioned by agents. Whenever Muslims get together who travel outside the country many accounts are told about their experiences of racial profiling at US airports.
Homeland Security has received many complaints, but insist they follow federal guidelines against racial profiling.
Reported by Revesz (2016) a young Muslim couple were trying to fly home to their young children in Cincinnati, Ohio when they were removed from a Delta Airline flight leaving Paris. They were removed for sweating, texting home and saying word Allah. They denied saying the word Allah. Mr. Ali had previously texted his mother to let her know they were on the way home. Mr. Ali said he was likely sweating, because they had been waiting on the tarmac for 45 minutes in the plane with poor air circulation. Faisal Ali and Nazia Ali were alarmed when asked to take all their belongings off the plane and leave, because they would not be taking that flight
Reves (2016) continues to report that after a French officer questioned them about their stay in Paris, he decided that there were no more questions and there was no reason to detain them, hence they booked the next flight home. They were booked in a hotel for the night, but the next day a US Customs Agent again interrogated them prior to boarding the plane. After boarding, Ms. Ali said she was scared, because you can be asked to leave any time before the plane takes off. A complaint has been filed by the Council of American-Islamic Relations against Delta Airlines for the discrimination against the couple. Mr. and Ms. Ali blamed Delta Airlines of being Islamophobic and I can see where they are coming from.
Reported by Feuerherd (2019) Mr. Mohamed Khairullah, a Muslim who served as mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey for many years, claimed he was racial profiled by United States Customs and Border Patrol Agents who held him for hours on August 2, 2019 at the JFK Airport in NY after he and his family had arrived from a visit in Turkey. The agents asked him
many personal questions including about association with terrorists. They took his phone and kept it for 12 days and he only got it back as a result of a legal fight. These actions were clearly a violation of Mayor Khairullah right to privacy and the Constitution causing him to feel insulted and harmed.
Racial Profiling by the Transportation Security Administration
As reported by Zanona (2016) “The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has opened up a formal investigation into allegations of racial profiling by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)”. A TSA employee was told by his upline to “treat members of the Somali community differently from others who visit the Minneapolis TSA office” (Zanona, 2016). Andrew Rhoades told the United States House and Government Reform Committee that he refused to follow these instructions (Zanona, 2016).
The report by Zanona (2016) continues with Mr. Rhoades telling members of the committee in effect the TSA not only abuses its employees but, makes finding terrorists more difficult. The committee decided to publish a report on the situation and instructed government employees to make reports if they found profiling. Al Franken, who was the senator from Minnesota at that time, indicated that he was pleased the investigation was happening and would do his best to help.
Racial Profiling by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
According to Currier (2017) the Obama administration has set up policies to end racial profiling by anyone in federal law enforcement. The new guidelines do not “apply… to local, state or border patrol law enforcement officers” (Currier, 2017). Reported by Currier (2017) Despite the new guidelines, the FBI has not changed its policies. FBI Director James Comey in
defiance of the new guidance said, “It doesn’t require any change to our policies or procedures,” (Currier, 2017). There is a concern that other federal agencies such as “the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Transportation Security Administration” (Moore, 2013) would follow the FBI’s lead and not conform to the new policies.
Local and Federal Guidance/Laws Against Racial Profiling
According to (“Biased based policing”, 2018) the Albuquerque Police have new guidelines that include being against racial profiling with all actions being based probably in line with the 14th Amendment. These new guidelines were likely as a result of the 2014 Maricopa County settlement of $22 million plus and the 2017 Obama Administration guidelines. The expectation is that all law enforcement agencies nationwide will follow Albuquerque Police Department’s example or at least that is the hope.
According Rush (2020) a House bill known as “H.R.35” makes lynching a hate crime that can involve both prison time and a fine if the defendant is convicted.
Reported by Sonmez (2020) finally after 120 years, the House finally passed an antilynching bill making lynching a federal crime. The House tried almost 200 times to pass such a bill starting with a bill that was introduced in 1900 by African American Congressman George Henry White, who was the only African American Congressman at that time.
Sonmez (2020) continued to report that between 1882 and 1968, almost 5,000 people, who were mostly African American were lynched throughout the vast majority of states in the union. Unfortunately, 99% the offenders escaped punishment by local and state authorities. The bill was named “Emmett Till Antilynching Act” (Sonmez, 2020). Sonmez (2020) relates in 1955, African American, Emmett Till, at age 14 was lynched after a Caucasian woman falsely
accused him of having whistled at her. The US Senate is expected to shortly pass the bill as well. I find 99% of the offenders who escaped punishment to be reprehensible, unethical, immoral and obviously quite illegal.
In conclusion what I have written about racial profiling in law enforcement reinforces my perspective to be against it. Regrettably, some such as the KKK, some law enforcement officers, some security guards, some pilots some TSA agents and even the FBI do not agree. Racial profiling has been proven to be counterproductive time and time again, especially with stop-and-frisk. It is also very expensive costing governments millions and millions of dollars. While murder has always been illegal laws against racial profiling started in 1868 with the 14th Amendment, which was generally ignored and go to the antilynching bill recently passed by the House. Racial profiling is unethical and immoral, because it goes against the laws of God and nature. What is your impression on racial profiling by law enforcement?
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