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Racial Profiling Essay

3011 words - 12 pages

IntroductionWhat is racial profiling? Who exactly does it affect? These, among many others, are some of the questions that will be answered in this paper. As defined by West's Encyclopedia of American Law, racial profiling is the consideration of race, ethnicity, or national origin by a law enforcement officer in deciding when and how to intervene in an enforcement capacity. For laypeople this term means having an officer take action against you only based upon your appearance. When the word 'race' is used in the dictionary, they do not include specifically what race.Racial profiling is committed towards minorities. What exactly is a minority anyway? Also from West's Encyclopedia of American Law, minority refers to the opposite of the majority, in context of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection, minority does not have merely numerical denotation but refers to identifiable and specially disadvantaged groups such as those based on race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. I'm sure we have all heard the phrase 'driving while black', referring to African Americans being stopped while driving for no apparent reason other than the color of their skin. If that doesn't ring a bell, maybe the names Rodney King, Abner Louima or Amadou Diallo bring back memories. All three of these men were subjected to extreme police force under the pretense of race. These cases raised a social eye to racial profiling and a greater mistrust of law enforcement officials. Seven years after the latter of the three situations occurred, are we still dealing with excessive force without reasonable grounds? Do incidences similar to 'driving while black' still occur?Traffic Stop DisparitiesAn article in Jet Magazine covered a story that illustrates racial profiling in traffic stops. The story took place in Illinois last year. Reverend James Meeks was on his way home with his wife and kids from Bible study when he was pulled over by a police officer. When he got out of the car to find out why he was stopped the officer allegedly pulled out his gun and yelled profanity at Meeks to return to the car. Although Meeks identified himself as not only a reverend, but also a state senator, the officer put the gun in his face and cursed for him to get back into the car. Meeks was issued four tickets and sent on his way. Black leaders were appalled that an officer would use such force when dealing in a non-violent, non-threatening situation. This article is a prime example for the phrase 'driving while black'. The Reverend was not only a well-known official, but he was also of African-American descent. It is common to see police officers stopping minorities more often and using excessive procedures in doing searches.Another article from the Orlando Sentinel documented this same type of behavior earlier this year. Rodderick Anderson, 33, of Parramore, Florida was stopped six times in the course of nine months. He works two jobs and lives in a prominent apartment complex. Yet,...

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