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Race Based Traffic Stops In The Us

1346 words - 5 pages

Imagine driving home, on a pleasant evening, after a tedious day at work. Just as you are about to arrive to your neighborhood, you notice blue and red flashing lights and pull over. It seems the police officer has no reason for stopping you, except to search your vehicle because of your suspiciously perceived skin tone. This unnecessary traffic stop, designed for people of colored skin, happens on numerous occasions and has been termed Driving While Black or Brown. Racial profiling is the act of using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.
Race-based traffic stops are dangerous for people of color, since they can happen anytime; various African Americans and Latinos modify their driving habits in uncommon ways. For example, some completely avoid predominately white suburbs, in fear of police involvements for looking out of place. Some intentionally drive ordinary vehicles or change his or her dressing style, and others who drive long distances even factor in extra time for the inescapable traffic stops (Harris).
“From 2005 to mid-2008, approximately eighty percent of total stops made were of Blacks and Latinos, who comprise twenty-five percent and twenty-eight percent of New York City’s total population, respectively. During this same time period, only about ten percent of stops were of Whites, who comprise forty-four percent of the city’s population” (“Restoring a National Consensus”). Ray Kelly, appointed Police Commissioner by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of New York in 2013, has not only accepted stop-and-frisk, a program that allows law enforcers to stop individuals and search them, but has multiplied its use. Kelly argued that New Yorkers of color, who have been unevenly targeted under the program could face even more stops-and-frisks, because the program is working. This caused an uproar leading to District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin’s ruling in Floyd v. City of New York, stating that the program was unconstitutional. Stop-and-frisks violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment, which are right to privacy and right to equal protection under the law, of Latino and African American individuals who were subject to searches. Judge Scheindlin stated that the policy encouraged the targeting of minority males based on their popularity in local crime complaints and that it was in fact a form of racial profiling (Smith).
One of the chief concepts of the Fourth Amendment is that the police cannot stop and confine an individual without probable cause that he or she is involved in criminal activity. Former Supreme Court decisions allowed police to use traffic stops as an excuse to search for evidence. Data has shown that police exercise this power primarily against African Americans and Latinos (Harris). On September 12, 2013, the City Council further weakened stop-and-frisk by overriding Bloomberg’s veto of the Community Safety Act, which created an inspector position to monitor and review the New York...

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