African Americans and Police Racial Profiling
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Some people are oblivious to the racial profiling that still exists in America, others do not care enough to talk about it. If it does not directly offend an individual, it is considered to much of a hassle to talk about. Police prejudice and racial profiling is responsible for many false arrests, convictions, and death of African Americans. It is a difficult and unfortunate part of life that certain groups of human beings must face these so called obstacles in their life because they are a minority or because of their skin color. Police racial profiling has been an ongoing problem that African Americans have been dealing with for over 500 years. In this paper I am going to discuss the history of prejudice and racial profiling, how it relates to the discriminatory acts of police and judicial system towards African Americans in the United States. Most importantly, I will discuss how America can help make a change and put an end to the Police racial profiling that still segregates this nation.
There is ample evidence that shows that prejudice still exists in America. All a person has to do is turn on the television, read the newspaper, or google search the terms: Racial prejudice, Racial profiling or police discrimination. After all of the hardships African Americans have endured during slavery, one would think that America has learned from its past mistakes. Yet, there are the ones who believe that not only do they represent the law but that they are above the law. We call them the police and the judicial system, the ones that in many cases use prejudice and discrimination to arrest and convict African Americans not because of their wrongdoing but because of the color of their skin.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signes the Proclamation of Emancipation to free all “persons that are held as slaves (Lincoln, 1863)” in the country of America. This movement shows a significat step towards freedom. However, the Proclamation Emancipation did not free all slaves because it did not consider the slaves in the south or the slaves in border states. However, it showed the world that the Civil war was being fought to put an end to slavery. Finally a couple years later, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed on January 31, 1865 by the Congress declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude.
..shall exist within the United States (The Constitution, 1864).” Formally ending slavery in the United States of America. The abolishment of slavery was considered a revolution and although freed slaves, it triggered hatred towards Blacks from Whites who could not any longer, legally be superior to the Blacks that were once, under their ownership. The 14th Amendment passed in 1865 gave all natural born citizens including the African Americans that had been born into slavery citizenship overruling the Dred Scott Case that had ruled that Blacks were not citizens of the United States in 1857. The fifteenth Amendment is passed in 1870 allowing African Americans to vote.
Fastforward to the 20th century, and one would imagine, that the country of America has learned and moved on from those ugly days where one person was superior to another. Indeed, America has become to more likely accept a society of mixed cultures including African Americans. But there are the people, the ones that believe that they are inferior to African Americans, and because their skin is white, they reserve the right to play God and judge. As African Americans try to live their lives, they are haunted by a scary reminder; the racial profiling of police and the judicial system.
Racial profiling is a significant social problem. Forty-two percent of African- Americans say police have stopped them just because of their race. Fifty-nine percent of the U.S. public believes that the practice is widespread. Eight-one percent disapprove of the practice (Gallup 1999). For instance, when a White driver is pulled over for speeding, he is asked a couple of questions such as “Good evening, may I see your Driver’s License and insurance card, please?” and “Have you been drinking tonight?” After the driver hands over his Driver’s License and insurance, he is then (in most cases) issued a ticket and told to drive safe and wished a good evening. For African Americans in many cases this is not the kind of scenario that they undergo when being pulled over by Law Enforcement for the same reason. Loren Siegel (1999) writes about a 37-year old man, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Rossano V. Gerald and his 12-year old son Gregory. They were traveling across the Oklahoma border when they had been pulled over twice. The first time by the Roland City Police Department, and the second time by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, both stops in less than 30 minutes. The second pull-over lasted a little less than three hours. Father, and son were put in a police vehicle where the airconditiong was turned off and only hot hair was turned on to blow. They were told, if they tried to escape that the police dog would attack them. The officers did turn of the recording tape in the middle of this racial bias going on. They proceeded to search Gerald’s car, not finding anything. This is a prime example of police racial profiling. Gerald was pulled over, treated inhumane because of the color of his skin. Any person is under risk to be treated this way, anywhere in the United States because their skin color has been associated with criminal activity that takes place.
African Americans and Whites view the law enforcement differently because of their past experiences with them. The reason being because they have such different experiences. Hatred crimes result because of incidents like the one involving Gerald and his son. Police brutality can be seen as violence steming from the state because not much has been done against it in the past. Most times when society does hear about violent police crimes against African Americans, the public is told that the officer was suspened for a few days or weeks and that proper action will be taken. Then, people never hear about that cop again. That is the kind of punishment an officer often times gets when his actions in these type of cases almost always consists of “deadly force, the use of excessive force, and it includes unjustified shooting, fatal choking, and physical assault (Randall 2004) by law enforcement officers. According to Randall, planting evidence, filing false statements, threatening suspects, engaging in illegal activities are some of the activities White law enforcement has been known to do amongst other illehgal things to convict innocent African Americans. activities, and committing perjury.
Rodney King, a name heard many times heard around the world. King was accompanied by two other friends for a night out. He was pulled over for speeding by the California Highway Patrol. Three more patrol cars were called for help and a helicopter. The shocking video-taped beating of Rodney King in 1991 in Los Angeles. Laurence Powell,Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, Rolando Solano, and Sargeant Stacy Koon were present. Suspecting that King was a drug user, he was badly beaten and almost killed. Years later, the case went to trial and even though a tape was present and victims to testify, the white officers were found ‘not guilty’. This is another way to show that America has not moved from its ways, and equality is just another word.
In 2007, statistics show that the rate of prisoners that were African-American was 4,618 for every 100,000 males. Black males were six times more likely to be held in custody than white males. The same year, white men show a significantly lower number of 773 per 100,000 males that were held in custody says Sabol, who conducted the survey in mid 2007.