Law Enforcement and Racial Profiling

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Sasha Murray, Staff Writer

     Racial profiling is the use of race or ethnicity as a reason to suspect someone of having committed a crime. This practice has always existed, yet was only fully recognized and unanimously defined in 1998. According to the American Bar Association, “Act of 1997, the U.S House of Representatives passed a unanimous bill in March 1988, constituting the first attempt by any legislative body to come to grips with what had become known as racial profiling.” The fact that the House of Representatives only acknowledged racial profiling in the ’90s is moronic. Considering the intensity and longevity of racial profiling, why did it take them so long to realize that it was an issue? For a country whose fourteenth constitutional amendment clearly states equal protection under the law for all, does that not apply to this? Yes, there was slavery for more than 400 years, but looking at the present and how racial profiling has become a well-known issue now, many wonder what change will occur, if any.

           According to the American Bar Association, “the police practice of stopping black and brown drivers in disproportionate numbers in attempts to investigate other crimes for which police had no evidence..is a tactic that has existed for years. But it had come to wider public knowledge in the early and middle 1990s…” Twenty-four years later, nothing has changed. Racial profiling is still prevalent and is viewed as normal within the public eye. When the eruptions of protests commenced after the George Floyd police brutality case, attention was brought to the issue of police brutality, which can be described as excessive use of force, racial discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse, wrongful search and seizure, false arrest, and for wrongful imprisonment. This prompted the police to create rules against the use of excessive force, yet the cases of police brutality and racial profiling continue to be a reoccurring issue. Yes, change requires time and effort, yet the only minimal effort is visible to the American population.

           Though a decent amount of racial profiling incidents do not end poorly, the death toll continues to rise. One unfortunate example of this includes 31-year-old Jonny Gammage. According to the American Civil Liberties Union,  the African American male was killed after being pulled over while driving in a predominantly white neighborhood. Police claimed that Gammage initiated the struggle, yet a witness said otherwise. According to the witness, the officers started the fight; kicking, hitting, and clubbing the man as he lay on the pavement. Three officers were charged with involuntary manslaughter with one being acquitted while the other two’s charges were dismissed.” So now not only is racial profiling and police brutality an issue, accountability is lacking as well. The law is supposed to protect all citizens without inconsistencies or failure. When individuals are targeted based on race and religion –rather than unusual behavioral patterns, the crime-fighting rate loses credibility while promoting distrust and disgust within the community.

       When listening to police department officials say that their departments are not racist during interviews or after tragic racially profiled deaths, it feeds disgust to the public eye. Saying and doing are two very different things; due to the police’s lack of honor towards their word, racial profiling is and will continue to be a major issue.