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Racial Profiling in America Essay

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On February 4, 1999, Amadou Diallo, an unarmed 22 year-old immigrant from New Guinea, West Africa, was shot and killed in the narrow vestibule of the apartment building where he lived. Four white officers, Sean Carroll, Kenneth Boss, Edward McMellon and Richard Murphy fired 41 bullets, hitting Diallo 19 times. All four were members of the New York City Police Department's Street Crimes Unit, which, under the slogan, "We Own the Night," used aggressive "stop and frisk" tactics against African- Americans at a rate double that group's population percentage. A report on the unit by the state attorney general found that blacks were stopped at a rate 10 times that of whites, and that 35 percent of those stops lacked reasonable suspicion to detain or had reports insufficiently filled out to make a determination. Thousands attended Diallo's funeral. Demonstrations were held almost daily, along with the arrests of over 1,200 people in planned civil disobedience. In a trial that was moved out of the community where Diallo lived and to Albany in upstate New York, the four officers who killed Diallo were acquitted of all charges. (“Persistence” 21)
Racial Profiling is any police or private security practice in which a person is treated as a suspect because of his or her race, ethnicity, nationality or religion. This occurs when police investigate, stop, frisk, search or use force against a person based on such characteristics instead of evidence of a person's criminal behavior. It often involves the stopping and searching of people of color for traffic violations, known as “DWB” or “driving while black or brown.” (Meeks 17)


After 9/11, racial profiling has become widely accepted as an appropriate form of crime prevention. People were s...


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... as far back as any of us can remember. Racial profiling stems from racism, and fear of people who are different, ethnically and culturally, than the person making the judgments. Sadly, it spreads even further than that, and clouds the judgment of the people who are in positions of authority, even when they come from the same ethnic background. Racism, classism, sexism and all the other –isms combine to create trends such as these, which affect more than just the person being judged; it affects their families, friends, neighborhoods, communities, etc. Like all other issues that deal with the problem of –isms, the only way to change the dominant perception is to change the way people are programmed throughout life and their experiences. Until that day, no legislation or rule is going to change the way people feel about the minority, or perceived lower class, group.



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