There’s an issue that every class of black folk are indignent about — underclass, working class, middle class and even the Black Crusaders. And that’s police brutality and harassment. I think 30 or 40 years ago, there was a hope that integration of police forces would help alleviate this problem. But the racist way of dealing with minorities appears to be part and parcel of the culture of U.S. police procedure. Being hassled by the police for little or even no reason is something that has happened in every African-American family. It’s not fair. And it needs to stop. Racial profiling is racism. Period. There’s an interesting article in CNN that breaks down the phenomenon based on a Justice Dept report that was last released in 2002.

Traffic stops are the most frequent way police interact with the public, accounting for 41 percent of all contacts. An estimated 17.8 million drivers were stopped in 2005.

Black, Hispanic and white motorists were equally likely to be pulled over by police — between 8 percent and 9 percent of each group. The slight decline in blacks pulled over — from 9.2 percent in 2002 to 8.1 percent in 2005 — was not statistically significant, Durose said, and could be the result of random differences.
The raw numbers

The racial disparities showed up after that point:

# Blacks (9.5 percent) and Hispanics (8.8 percent) were much more likely to be searched than whites (3.6 percent). There were slight but statistically insignificant declines compared with the 2002 report in the percentages of blacks and Hispanics searched.

# Blacks (4.5 percent) were more than twice as likely as whites (2.1 percent) to be arrested. Hispanic drivers were arrested 3.1 percent of the time.

Among all police-public contacts, force was used 1.6 percent of the time. But blacks (4.4 percent) and Hispanics (2.3 percent) were more likely than whites (1.2 percent) to be subjected to force or the threat of force by police officers.

People interviewed described police hitting, kicking, pushing, grabbing, pointing a gun or spraying pepper spray at them or threatening to do so. More than four of five felt the force used was excessive, but there were no statistically significant racial disparities among the people who felt that way.

Two years ago, the Bush administration’s handling of the 2002 report and its finding of racial disparities generated considerable controversy.

Departing from normal practice, the earlier report was simply posted on the statistics bureau’s Web site without any press release announcing it.

The bureau’s director at the time, Lawrence A. Greenfeld, appointed by President Bush in 2001, wanted to publicize the racial disparities, but his superiors disagreed, according to a statistics bureau employee.

Greenfeld told his staff he was being moved to a new job following the dispute, according to this employee, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

This time there was a press release.

It’s not just in your head. We’re not over-sensitive. I think this is an issue that is hard for white people to get because the fear of not knowing what might happen during a police interaction and the humiliation of being treated like a criminal while trying to pick up your kids from school or head to your parents’ house or to a dinner party in a different neighborhood just isn’t something they experience or hear about. Except from their black friends.

From the article, it sounds like the Bush administration was trying to bury this report in 2002 due to embarrassment. I will be interested to hear the presidential candidates’ answers on this issue and I am willing to bet a lot of other minorities are eager to hear their positions on racial profiling too.

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