Police Brutality and Racial Profiling
How it works
If you were stopped by police officers and all they saw was your race, imagine how that would have felt. Sadly, this happens in the real world to people of color daily. Racial profiling is a controversial and illegal form of discrimination, where people are targeted for suspicion based on their race or ethnicity rather than on evidence-based suspicious behavior. Racial profiling is a common practice used by law enforcement agencies in the United States. It is based on the idea that individuals of certain races are more prone to committing crimes, so they should be targeted. According to Holmes (2020, p. 807), the relationship between police brutality and race is complex. There have been cases where officers who have killed black people have not been punished for their actions because they were acquitted or because their colleagues testified in their favor. As racism continues to be a problem, more and more people become victims of racial profiling. Racial profiling is unfair to anyone because every person should be judged on their character.
While there is a lot of talk about racial profiling and how it only affects African Americans, it can affect everyone, causing many negative consequences, including being stereotyped or treated poorly by law enforcement. Ideally, racial profiling is a problem that could be solved if people could judge others based on their personality than how they look. Airport security officials, police, and regular people discriminate, which is terrible for everyone, including the family members of someone profiled. While racial profiling might feel invasive to some, it is a proper precaution that does not replace traditional crime-fighting methods and increases crime prevention by using race to find criminals. Only in select instances is it alright to consider someone’s race as a factor in a criminal investigation (Seigel, 2017, p. 483). For example, if the police are looking to track someone down, they need to get a hold of an outward appearance with a report from another person, making it more manageable.
How it works
Generally, racial profiling is when a law enforcement official suspects someone they have never seen before of a crime just because of their race which is morally wrong and illegal. The police might let real criminals get away while arresting or tracking an innocent person. There is not any evidence that racial profiling is necessary for airport safety. According to Brooks (2020, p. 241), using the “based on their physical appearance” method is impractical and cannot be used for an extended time like airport security. There are so many countries in the Middle East that it is not always easy to pick out who the person is that you are checking. Checking someone based on their look is not an effective way of keeping people off a plane, so it should not be done. Although African Americans have often been the subject of racial profiling, there is no way to assume that a whole race of people is guilty just because a group committed a terrorist attack years ago. Racial profiling can happen to anyone and is increasing in airports that excessively check people of Arab or Muslim descent. After 9/11, Arabs and Muslims have been kicked off planes and questioned at airports. They became targets of racial profiling in America because of their ethnicity or religion.
Racial profiling has threatened equal rights and civil liberties since 9/11 because of extra security measures to prevent terrorists from getting through. The Boston TSA’s behavior detection program confirmed that passengers are better served and safer by profiling based on race or ethnicity instead of national origin (Hosein, 2018). Black people, who are more likely to wear baseball caps backward and be assumed as illegal immigrants, are stopped. Police officers can also prevent you if they feel that the likelihood of you being a criminal is high, even if your ethnicity does not suggest this. Reportedly, an African American judge was driving without a seatbelt and was stopped by the UCLA Police on November 23 as he left a fitness gym. They attempted to use force he did not feel needed, and he filed a lawsuit for 10 million dollars. He claimed that he had been detained and handcuffed, then forced into the back of a car and locked inside for about an hour until a black sergeant arrived. One of the police officers pulled over, saw a man, and asked for his license and registration. He was trying to get it out of the car, but then they led him into a struggle, and that was when he was thrown against the other vehicle, injuring him badly. In this case, the man was presumed guilty, and these unprofessional officers had no business arresting him. Another reason why this appears to be an example of racial profiling is his age. He just looked too young to cross onto UCLA campus. Police officers would have assumed that merely looking at him would not require any force, but they used physical force anyway.
Racial profiling is not practiced only by police officers–it also happens at work and in your everyday life. It is essential to keep an eye out for this behavior as it leads to unfortunate consequences (UN News, 2021). Trayvon Martin was simply in his neighborhood when he was attacked. He had been dual housing the two-dimensional concept of black and white when a man shot him down. George Zimmerman, who was on duty as a neighborhood watch captain in a reasonably wealthy gated community, ended up shooting Trayvon when he saw him walking under a tree. Trayvon called 911 and waited for them to arrive. Unfortunately, the man did not follow instructions, and Trayvon died. One big problem is that George Zimmerman thought the person wearing a hoodie was dangerous because he was black. There is not enough information for a reasonable decision, and many people would disagree with his judgment. Many people think George Zimmerman was not guilty and may have self-defense as his motive. A history of violence seems to have already started, and the coming about of this trial could get Zimmerman in trouble again.
Ultimately, it is not only dangerous and uncomfortable to have a person follow you around or stare hard at you, but long term, it can also lead to some severe problems. It is not just an immediate problem; sometimes, things that do not appear like such a big deal become rather difficult in the long run. After someone has been told they are not good enough for so long that they start to believe it, it is probably best for them not to keep going down the same path. It is sad to see the adverse effects of racial profiling on individuals. Perhaps the best thing you can do is to take a few steps to try and stop it as soon as possible. Many people of different colors and backgrounds have the power to prevent racial profiling (Angus and Crichlow, 2018). Those with authority are responsible for helping make things better, while many average citizens can also contribute by speaking out against racial profiling when they see it happen. It is not fair or proper to make assumptions about people because of their race because it can cause damage that can follow them throughout their lives.
- Angus, J. and Crichlow, V. (2018) “A race and power perspective on police brutality in America,” FAU Undergraduate Research Journal, 7, pp. 8–8. Available at: https://journals.flvc.org/faurj/article/view/106404 (Accessed: September 9, 2022).
- Brooks, O. (2020) “Police brutality and blacks: An American immune system disorder,” Journal of the National Medical Association, 112(3), pp. 239–241. doi: 10.1016/j.jnma.2020.06.003.
- Holmes, O., IV (2020) “Police brutality and four other ways racism kills Black people,” Equality Diversity and Inclusion an International Journal, 39(7), pp. 803–809. doi: 10.1108/edi-06-2020-0151.
- Hosein, A. O. (2018) “Racial profiling and a reasonable sense of inferior political status: Racial profiling & inferior political status,” The Journal of political philosophy, 26(3), pp. e1–e20. doi: 10.1111/jopp.12162.
- Seigel, M. (2017) “The dilemma of ‘racial profiling’: an abolitionist police history,” Contemporary justice review, 20(4), pp. 474–490. doi: 10.1080/10282580.2017.1383773.
- UN News (2021) USA: Rights experts call for reforms to end police brutality, systemic racism, UN News. Available at: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/02/1085872 (Accessed: September 9, 2022).