Police Brutality and Racial Profiling
Can you imagine being stopped by the police on your way to an everyday activity, soon to find that it was all because of the color of your skin? This is called racial profiling, defined as: “a controversial and illegal discriminatory practice in which individuals are targeted for suspicion of crimes based on their ethnicity, race, or religion rather than on evidence-based suspicious behavior” (Racial Profiling). This is a growing problem that can happen to anyone at any time due to lingering racism and ignorance that still exists today. Racial profiling isn’t fair to anyone. People should be judged on the person they are rather than how they look. Some say that racial profiling is a problem that only African American can tell to, but, this just simply is not true. Racial profiling can affect anyone, including Muslims, Arabs, Native Americans, and even Caucasians. Racial profiling is a problem that could be solved if everyone including airport security officials, police, and regular people, could judge others based on their personality rather than how they look. Some people might consider racial profiling as simply an extra precaution used in keeping people safe. A police officer using someone’s race as a way to track down a criminal would be an example of this. The only instance in which it’s ok to consider someone’s race as a factor in a crime is if that person is reported by another, and, the police must use their physical appearance to track them down.
Real racial profiling is when a law enforcement official suspects someone they’ve never seen before of a crime just because of as they look. Not only is this morally wrong and illegal, but the police might actually be letting real criminals get away while they might be taking to arrest or track an innocent person just because of their race. Another common claim that people have is that racial profiling is ok in airports because it stops the chance of terrorists. This claim simply doesn’t make any sense because you can’t just tell if someone is a terrorist for their physical appearance. Checking someone that looks middle eastern is not a valid or effective way of keeping terrorists off of a plane, because, there are so many countries in the Middle East with all types of people. You can’t assume something of a whole race of people just because one group took part in a terrorist attack 13 years ago. One common misconception about racial profiling is that it only happens to one race of people, African American. Racial profiling can happen to anyone and has become more and more popular in airports that excessively check people that looks of Arab or Muslim descent. In the article “Racial Profiling,” the writer(s) explains, “After the event of 9/11 [Arabs and Muslims] became the main targets of racial profiling. They have reported being kicked off planes and questioned at airports just because of their ethnicity or religion.”
According to more than thirty officers at a Boston airport, racial profiling has been more and more common because of extra precautions used to stop terrorists since 9/11. The Transportation Security Administration ‘s behavior detection program at Logan International Airport in Boston confirmed that passengers that fit certain characteristics are more likely to be stopped. For example, Hispanics traveling to Miami are more likely to be assumed as illegal immigrants, and, blacks wearing their baseball caps backwards are also more likely to be stopped. Police officers can also take part in racial profiling. An African American judge, David Cunningham, filed a lawsuit of 10 million dollars after being stopped and arrested for not wearing a seatbelt. He claims that the UCLA police used too much force than needed and he feels that it was only due to his race. He was stopped by the police on November 23 right after he was leaving a fitness gym. He claimed that he was thrown against a car, handcuffed, and locked him in the car until a black sergeant arrived. He was pulled over outside of the L. A Fitness building and was buckling his seatbelt. One of the officers asked to see his license and registration, and he began to try to get it out. He couldn’t find the papers in the glove compartment so he got out to look for them in the truck, and that was when he was thrown against the car and handcuffed.
This case was definitely a case of racial profiling and those police officers really had no business arresting anyone that wasn’t on the UCLA campus. Another reason that makes this case questionable is the man ‘s age. Just by looking at his picture you can tell he looks no younger than fifty. This means that just by looking at him the police officers probably would have assumed no force would be needed to handcuff him, yet they used force anyways. According to David Cunningham, they used enough force to really leave marks on his body. He says,” I am shaken, battered, and bruised by this ordeal. I feel I have suffered nerve damage in my wrist” (Cunningham). You could tell this had a really strong emotional and physical effect on him that he might just have to deal with for the rest of his life. Some people may not realize that racial profiling isn’t just limited to people of authority. Everyday people can also be guilty of judging or discriminating other people just for their race.
Just think of the shooting of Trayvon Martin for example. George Zimmerman was on duty as a neighborhood watch captain in a fairly wealthy gated community when he saw a black teenage boy in a hoodie walking through the neighborhood. He called 911 and was instructed to wait until they came, but he instead disregarded the information and attacked Trayvon leading to Trayvon ‘s death. The biggest problem with this case was the fact that George Zimmerman considered him a threat just by observing that he was black and that he wore a hoodie. This is not enough information to decide whether someone is a danger to a community or not. Some people might disagree that Zimmerman was guilty and might argue that Trayvon attacked him first, but soon after the trial George Zimmerman was arrested again for domestic abuse which shows he already had a history of violence. The effects of racial profiling are not just physical and immediate. They can lead to long term psychological and emotional problems. People might even change their everyday activities and schedule just to somehow avoid being a victim of racial profiling once again. After time and time again of someone being told they ‘re not good enough because of something they really can’t change, they might just start to believe it. This can lead to anything from self-esteem problems to possibly even suicide all due to one thoughtless, ignorant comment from just one individual. Racial Profiling is a problem that should be stopped as soon as possible. People of authority and everyday citizens are both a common contributor which means they can both work to stop doing it. Not only is it unfair and morally wrong to make assumptions about people because of only their race but it also leads to physical and emotional damage that can follow people all throughout the rest of their lives.