¨Existing law prohibits a peace officer from engaging in racial profiling and requires the training to prescribe patterns, practices, and protocols that prevent racial profiling, as defined,” (Assembly Bill No. 953). If the law states that racial profiling is forbidden from being used as a motive for arrests and searches, why have so many fallen victim to it? Why are there movements dedicated to just being treated equally in America? Why has it been an ongoing problem in this country for years, and yet nothing has changed? Racial profiling is too commonly used as a weapon against races that have no leverage or representation in the U.S and is overall just morally wrong.
Racial profiling by the law is dangerous. Countless people have been brutally beaten, dragged from their cars, or flat out been killed due to being racially profiled. One example is a video of forty-year-old African-American Mack Buckley being held at gunpoint and dragged out of his car by a Delaware State Trooper that had gained attention on Facebook. In the video, Buckley can be heard ignoring the demand to get out of his car saying, “I’m not stepping out of the car,” and, “You cannot pull me out of this,”. Then the trooper can be seen pointing a gun at Buckley through the open car window, prompting Buckley to start yelling repeatedly, “Why you pulling a gun on me? Why are you pulling a gun on me?”. Buckley was allegedly pulled over for speeding, but he never received the ticket, nor the reason as to why he was pulled from his car. When he was detained, he shared how the officer kept referring to, “YOU PEOPLE,” and saying how he wouldn’t care if they died tomorrow. Clearly, “YOU PEOPLE,” is the trooper’s indirect way of saying African-Americans like Buckley, but claims he had meant, “society”. The amount of hostility shown from the trooper in the video is extremely unnecessary just for a speeding ticket, and his quote on “YOU PEOPLE,” already shows how the trooper was ready to treat Buckley with more aggressiveness than he would with anyone else who wasn’t African-American (Musumeci). Edward Minguela was also another victim of racial profiling when he was attacked by the police on February twenty-second after a call was made about a man who had a gun. The three cops showed up at the scene and automatically assumed Minguela was the man the call was about, and even though Minguela could be seen in the surveillance video surrendering and putting his hands up, they proceeded to tackle him and hold him down, while one of them punched him in the head twelve times (Everett). They took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion, bruising, a broken wrist (Walsh), and given two summons for resisting arrest and obstruction (Everett). With the assumption that Minguela was the suspect, the cops beat him instead of searching him, and still no gun was found (Office of the Prosecutor Camden County). Minguela was completely innocent, yet was attacked and charged for crimes that could’ve been avoided if the cops hadn’t used such an extreme amount of force. They treated him like that because police are following the trend of using extra amounts of violence on any person of color, which is unfair and unlawful to assume. Another major case of racial profiling was back in 2012 when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman who was apart of the neighborhood watch. The neighborhood where Martin died was mixed race but he was profiled at the time because he was young and black. Zimmerman had deemed him suspicious and called the police and was told to leave it alone, but Zimmerman still went after Martin like he was the law. In his “heroics” he got into an altercation and then proceeded to shoot Martin in claims of self-defense. Martin was just getting some candy and tea but ended up getting killed because Zimmerman didn’t like the way he looked (Skinner). Zimmerman was later found not guilty of second-degree murder and Trayvon Martin never got his deserved justice (“Trayvon Martin Shooting Fast Facts.”). Racial profiling is proving to hurt and kill innocent people, which is adding to the distrust and the racial divide African-Americans have with the law and the rest of the U.S. The fear of being unrightfully treated or hurt by the police is very real and doing nothing to make anyone feel safe in their own skin.
Since the inauguration of our forty-fifth president Donald Trump, race and ethnicity have started to affect minorities and other racial groups negatively. The effect of Trump’s adamancy to build a wall on the U.S and Mexico border, along with his travel ban on refugees, has increased the amount of race-based incidents between white people and any other race, particularly Mexicans, anyone who appears to be Muslamic or Arabic, and African-American people. Racists all over the country and even the world, can be seen on social media mocking and harassing people in stores, on trains, and even at parks for no apparent reason other than the fact that they look different. In 2018 there were many cases of African-Americans being harassed for doing nothing as well. Videos of African-Americans being arrested in public establishments like Starbucks for not ordering and having the cops called on them for entering their own high-class homes, shows black people everywhere are being harassed just for being black. Last year in August, a pregnant black woman named Sherell Bates was asked if she was stealing and hiding things up her shirt by an officer on behalf of the cashier at a Staples in North Carolina. She told the officer she was pregnant, but he didn’t believe her so she had to lift up her shirt to prove it to him (Tinoco). If Bates had been a pregnant white woman, the thought that she might have been stealing would’ve never crossed the cashier’s mind. No matter how uncomfortable someone is in the presence of a black person, that black person is a thousand more times uncomfortable from being followed around and messed with for no reason whatsoever. The stereotype of all black people being violent and unsafe and poor is something White America has perceived as true for far too long and is getting out of hand. In 2018 there was also a phenomenon from March through April about the worry of fliers being sent out for “Punish a Muslim Day” on April third in the UK, issuing points for throwing acid at a Muslim and torturing a Muslim, among other things (Emery). It’s sad that since the tragic event of 9/11, Muslim and Arabic people always fall victim to the racial profile of being “bombers” and “terrorists” everywhere they go. Small things like having their hijabs pulled off and slurs yelled at them for nothing, makes being who they are harder in a society where being different is perceived as bad. Most of this stems from Trump and his travel bans and wall building, which is what sets the racism against Mexicans apart. Back in 2015, Trump started his campaign by saying immigrants that come from Mexico are, “rapists and criminals,” and that, “Mexican officials… “send the bad ones” to the U.S” (Edelman). Since he’s become president, Mexican people across the country get harassed everywhere and are told to “go back to where they came from” and that “they don’t belong here”. Mexicans in America have absolutely no leverage or a way to fight back against the blatant racial profiling they receive on a daily basis because that’s the type of leadership Trump has chosen to use, prejudice as power. No matter if they’re born here or are an actual immigrant, the only thing Trump supporters see are rapists, criminals, and killers that are out to destroy America somehow. These are innocent people who would never get bothered if they were white, yet since they aren’t, they don’t deserve to be left alone. Being prejudice against innocent people because of their race or ethnicity is adding to the amount of unsafety felt on a daily basis. For them, there isn’t anywhere safe where they can be away from the assumptions made for them by racial profiling. There is no need for anyone to go out of their way to confront someone simply because they look different, it affects their safety, takes away lives, and overall is completely pointless.
Racial profiling practiced by law enforcement and the public tends to alienate groups of Americans based on their color and label them as “less than” or “not fully American”. The realization and tiredness of the unfairness led to organizations made to fight back, in particular, Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter was formed by co-founder Alicia Garza the day after Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty of second-degree murder (Parks, 4). She posted on Facebook saying, “I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter…stop giving up on black life…our lives matter,” and connected with the two other co-founders, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, to help bring awareness to the unfair everyday treatment of African Americans in America (Parks, 5). According to the Obama panel of 2015, “…62 percent of blacks felt that they received unequal (and unjust) treatment from the police,” which results in a wide disconnection between them and black people (Jr., 43). According to The Root, last year black people made up 12.6% of the population in the U.S. and 26.7% of people killed by the police. The Black Lives Matter movement is black people standing up to the lack of representation in America because the disrespect they receive for being black is unfair. The Declaration of Independence states that “…all men are created equal,” and, “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” yet no person of color is safe from the unjust and racist actions they receive every day (“United States Declaration of Independence.”). In response to black America speaking up, movements like Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter have been created as well. Blue Lives Matter was created to advocate for the lives and safety of officers in the line of duty (“Blue Lives Matter.”), and All Lives Matter was created to highlight the importance of all types lives instead of just one (“All Lives Matter.”). Both of these campaigns seem to go against the point of Black Lives Matter and only make things worse in the sense of uniting America. The topic of the police and police brutality test every American’s right to be protected instead of attacked by law enforcement due to race. The acts of slavery, segregation, and police brutality against African-Americans is a prime example of how “…all men are created equal,” didn’t apply to their rights (“United States Declaration of Independence.”). Although slavery in America has been outlawed since December of 1865 (“Slavery in the United States.”), The Declaration of Independence was written in 1776, which means that when our Founding Fathers were creating an “equal” America, they actively chose to ignore the slaves that they owned and traded. Slaves were not counted as people or even counted as human, so how does that fit with, “… certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” (“United States Declaration of Independence.”) ? In all honesty, it doesn’t, so even then when a huge turning point for white America was made, black people were denied importance and relativity. Even decades later when segregation was being practiced, black America was still ridiculed for being black. The separation between schools, water fountains, and restaurants made being African-American seem like it was a disease that could spread from contact. African-Americans are humans, they’re American, and yet they get treated with so much disrespect for just being there. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and E.D. Nixon are examples of black people who were tired of the oppression that they had to deal with, prompting The Montgomery Bus Boycott and King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Since then, small steps have been made to lessen the separation between races, but they still haven’t helped to fully close the divide.
Racial profiling as a whole is morally wrong and adds even more to the racial divide in the U.S, but there are ways that racial profiling can be helpful or even “good”. The opposite side of the law using racial profiling as a weapon is the law using it as a tool to find and identify suspects. If the specific characteristics of the suspect have a racial guideline, then it makes sense to question and find people who fit the description. It makes it easier to narrow down the number of people questioned and the number of resources used to find the potential suspect. If racial profiling was used this way, instead of an automatic go-to resource for dealing with any person of color, there wouldn’t be such a big divide between the law and racial groups that are considered to be “less than” (“Racial Profiling Pros and Cons List.”). Racial profiling can also help stop potential crimes from happening by utilizing the “stop and frisk” method. It’s not very hard to stop a suspicious character on the street, especially if they look like they might be a potential threat. If the suspect is free of weapons and drug paraphernalia, then they’re free to go, but if drugs or weapons are found, then a potential crisis has been averted just by doing a little bit of double checking (Ayres). But imagine being stopped while you’re walking down the street by an officer just because your outside appearance scares them. Just knowing that because of the way that you look that the police are watching you, only adds to the amount of distrust multiple different racial groups have with the law. Wouldn’t you be scared too if stories of innocent people of your race were getting targeted and mistreated just because they looked different? That lingering worry when you step out into the world that you might have a run in with the police because someone didn’t like the way that you were, is what real people experience every day due to racial profiling.
Racial profiling overall is doing America more harm than good. The number of people put in danger, harassed, and killed just because of the profile fit to their race is too big. If America is a diverse place supposedly full “equal rights and opportunity”, why are there so many issues with race today? It’s because equal rights mean nothing if you’re anything other than white in this predominantly white country. The racial profiles that are applied to minorities and people of color today were created by white people, and their biases have just become what’s always expected. This shows how the people in our country see anyone brown as less than or a threat that needs to be met with violence which is wrong. They’ve fit people of color into a box to look like they deserve the racial discrimination being directed towards them every day. African-Americans, Muslims, Mexicans, and so on have been victims of racial profiling for too long, and it needs to stop.