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Racial Profiling: Not Just for the Darkies Anymore!

Recently, there has been a lot of media attention on racial profiling in drug cases. A cop will stop a car with two young Mexican men in it, for example, because heroin is known to be sold by young Mexican men. So there is no probable cause just a statistical argument (although very often, even the statistical argument is flawed). It is good that this police practice is getting uncovered for what it is. Unfortunately, another form of racial profiling continues to go unnoticed.

The racial profiling that I'm referring to is used primarily against whites. I only became aware of it when talking to a man who had recently finished serving time on a drug possession charge. He was in a mostly "black" area of town and had just scored some crack. He was walking home when a couple of police officers decided to question him. He fumbled over the question, "what are you doing in this part of town?" They used this as probable cause to search him. He spent six months in jail for this.

Supposedly, we live in a country where we do not have to explain what we are doing to authorities--as long as there isn't reason to assume some wrong doing. But now, being the wrong skin color--whatever that might be--makes a person suspect.

To some extent, racial profiling is about racism. But more, it is about the government's belief that it has a right to stick its nose into the affairs of private citizens. Unless police can see that a crime is being committed, they should have no right to interfere with anyone's life.

The presumption of innocence must begin on the street.

by Dr. H
© 2001
Last Modified: 21 Jul 10


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