Tag Archives: racial profiling

Racial Profiling 101 | Select passages from: “A Call for a new anti-war Movement” | By Kevin Alexander Gray

How to Legalize Drugs

Published in How to Legalize Drugs – Jefferson M. Fish (Editor), 1998 | reprinted in Waiting for Lightning to Strike:The Fundamentals of Black Politics, 2008

|Profiling 101 | i.e. “the war on drugs” (or ‘on blacks’ – whichever you prefer) – once the word “drug” or “drug-related” (or “gang-related” or “thug”) is uttered in policing, public discourse (to include media) – the person whom its applied is presumed “to have no rights that any man (or law) is bound to respect.”

“… The racists, that are usually very influential in the society, don’t make their move without first going to get public opinion on their side.  So they use the press to get public opinion on their side.  When they want to suppress and oppress the Black community, what do they do?  They take the statistics, and through the press, they feed them to the public.  They make it appear that the role of crime in the Black community is higher than it is anywhere else.

What does this do?  This message ‑‑ this is a skillful message used by racists to make the whites who aren’t racist think that the rate of crime in the Black community is so high.  This keeps the Black community in the image of a criminal.  It makes it appear that anyone in the Black community is a criminal.  And as soon as this impression is given, then it makes it possible, or paves the way to set up a police‑type state in the Black community, getting the full approval of the white public when the police , use all kinds of brutal measures to suppress Black people, crush their skulls, sic dogs on them, and things of that type.  And the whites go along with it.  Because they think that everybody over there’s a criminal anyway…”

 Malcolm X

The “war on drugs” particularly affects how children are viewed, valued and treated by society.  The perception created by the war is that youth are abnormally violent.  The dehumanizing portrayal of the current  youth subculture as being more violent than past generations has resulted in a corresponding erosion of the rights of minors.  Warrantless searches of lockers, drug sniffing dogs and urine testing for athletes have become commonplace in the public schools.  Many state and federal laws now allow minors as young as thirteen to be tried as adults.  Punishment is one of the few areas that society grants minors equal (or more) value to adults.  Ordinarily, minors do not receive the same rights’ protections, or value, as adults.  It might be assumed that since many in the black community have a child, relative or friend under some type of penal supervision, they would eschew any attempts at dehumanization.  However, it seems that tacit acceptance of the portrayal of youth as abnormally violent has taken place.  Since the fear of youth is promoted, solving the drug abuse problem takes a back seat to control and containment.  This promotion of fear gives irresponsible adults an escape from facing their responsibility for the problem of so-called incorrigible youth.  Instead of dealing with the problems of youth one often hears stereotyping comments such as, “If you look at them [youth] hard they will cuss you out or shoot you.”   Fear also creates irresponsible parents.  Fear lowers resistance to dehumanization and parental responsibility is surrendered to the state.  The surrender takes the form of more police with an over-abundance of power, the proliferation of  boot camps, regressive “youth-oriented” legislation such as curfew and noise ordinances, and schools that are more reminiscent of penal facilities than educational institutions.  Consequently, lack of parental responsibility coupled with the increased reliance on control and containment has caused children to become resentful and lose respect for adults and institutions, especially in the face of the erosion and disrespect for their equal protection and due process rights.  Worse, there is a diminution in value that the child places on all life.  These are the dynamics that make for a more violent society.”

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Waiting for Lightning to Strike:The Fundamentals of Black Politics

You cannot have war without an enemy.  The first act of the drug warriors was to claim that they were  protecting citizens from an evil enemy.  After identifying the enemy, war supporters peppered the air with cries of national unity and war metaphors.  The metaphors helped create a militaristic environment.  Criminologists’ Peter B. Kraska and Victor E. Kappeler write:

Metaphors play a central role in the construction of and reaction to social problems: they act to organize our thoughts, shape our discourse, and clarify our values (Ibarra and Kitsuse 1993; Spector and Kitsuse 1987).  Sociologists have documented the spread of the medical metaphor — defining social problems as “illnesses” to be treated by medical professionals — as an important trend in twentieth-century social control (Conrad and Schneider 1992; Conrad 1992)…  The ideological filter encased within the war metaphor is “militarism,” defined as a set of beliefs and values that stress the use of force and domination as appropriate means to solve problems and gain political power, while glorifying the tools to accomplish this — military power, hardware, and technology (Berghahn 1982; Eide and Thee 1980; Kraska 1993).

When the enemy is a targeted group of people, they face immediate dehumanization.  Martin Luther King, Jr. often referred to dehumanization as “thingification.”  Public acceptance of the growing incarceration rate is due in large part to the continuing thingification of blacks.  Rather than picturing the black and Latino fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters that are being jailed, politicians and demagogues dismiss them as criminals — the “enemy.”   The obvious consequence of dehumanization is an erosion of respect for human rights and the constitutional protection of those rights.  

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Dehumanization has a variety of elements, nonetheless, in the drug war racism is the most obvious element.  The war’s propaganda re-enforces the notion that the enemy possesses an inherent or genetic predisposition to violence.  This validates disproportionate state action and control.   As long as the object of scorn has no humanity, they are not worthy of justice or even life.  During World War II, the Japanese were labeled “Japs” and assigned a variety of stereotypes.  This made the decision to drop atomic bombs on them seem somewhat less barbaric.  During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese became “Charlie” or “gooks,” which partly explains why the United States could not envision losing a war to a group of ‘pajama clad commies.”  When Africans were enslaved for their labor and North American aborigines were exterminated for land, they were respectively referred to as “dumb savages” and “noble savages.”  In the war, black men labeled are “predatory,” in an attempt to reinforce dehumanization.  Labeling black youth as “predatory” arose from attacks against foreign tourists in Florida in the early nineties.  It was also used to describe incorrigible youth in New York City (along with the term “wilding”).  In 1993, during the heat of the crime debate, news programs, such as NBC’s Meet the Press, revived and popularized the D.W. Griffith  Birth of a Nation stereotype of the black male “predator.”   Needless to say, all crimes are predatory in nature.  Milwaukee serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer was surely predatory, however, he was not a black or a teen when he committed his crimes.  Furthermore, neither Dahmer or Colin Ferguson –the Long Island Train killer, had any arrests prior to their murderous acts.  To apply the term “predatory” on the basis of age reinforces the perception of the youthful offender being more violent than the adult offenders.  To add race simply implies that black youth offenders are more violent than all others.

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The drug warriors target the “enemy”  by use of a “profile.”  The profile allows police to make cursory assumptions as to whom they suspect is apt to engage in criminal activities.  How one “fits the profile” can depend on a number of things.  It can be something as obvious as gender, race and age.  It can be the area one drives through or lives.  It can be the time of day that one drives down a highway or the fact that one drives on a certain  road at all.  Profiling encompasses one’s car and its “gold” accessories.  Those driving with tinted car windows, any type of neon lights and, chopped or hydraulic suspensions are always suspect.  It can be a haircut — dreads locks (hairstyle associated with Rastifarians) mean reefer smoker.  A style of dress — baggy pants and oversized jacket mean gangbanger.  In addition, “colors” are a dead give-away.  It can be “eye balling” a police officer or, looking away.   It can be traveling with a crowd or traveling alone.  Profiling can entail anything, everything and nothing.  The most often used profile is that of being a young black and there is an increase in the number of these “profiled” individuals from targeted areas going to jail.  To this extent, the drug warriors’ battle plan is a success…. 

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Stand in Solidarity with Prof. Gates! Say NO to Racism!

Bail Out The People Movement

Stop Racial Profiling and Police Brutality!

Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Was Right!

The Cambridge Cops Must Apologize!

Youth Need Jobs & Schools – Not Jails!
 
Demand a Justice Department Investigation of Racial Profiling Across the US!

———————-
Sign the Online Petition.
http://www.bailoutpeople.org/gatespetition.shtml  (text of online petition)

Let President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Massachusetts Governor Patrick, Cambridge Mayor Simmons, the Cambridge City Council, Cambridge Police Commissioner Haas, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, Congressional Leaders and members of the media know you stand against racism with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and you want the Obama administration to launch a national investigation into racial profiling and police brutality NOW!

The arrest of Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. by a Cambridge police officer after showing two forms of identification after he, along with a Black limo driver, had unjammed the lock to the front door of Gates’ own house in a predominantly white, upscale neighborhood known as “Harvard Square” has brought the struggle against racism to the front pages of newspapers throughout the US and around the world.

The Cambridge Police Department and their racist allies have worked overtime to slander and vilify Prof. Gates. But his only crime was in fact to resist the racist arrogance of the Cambridge Police and not acquiesce to their racist and unjust treatment of him. The torrent of racist vitriol targeting Prof. Gates as well as the absolute racist arrogance displayed by the Cambridge Police Department in demanding that Pres. Obama and Gov. Patrick apologize for expressing support for Prof. Gates, cannot go unanswered!  It is time for all poor and working people, and particularly whites, to come out against these racist attacks and stand foursquare in 100% solidarity with Professor Gates and against racial profiling and police brutality.

Cambridge, Harvard University and Boston are seen around the world as bastions of liberalism, hotbeds of progressive ideas and prestigious places from which cutting-edge research emanates. But the racial profiling and arrest of Prof. Gates have re-raised the question of how much has changed since the 1970s when, in the wake of court-ordered busing for desegregation, white racist mobs were stoning buses carrying Black school children and attacking Black people on the streets and in their homes.

Gates was Right! The Cambridge Police Department was Wrong!

Racial profiling is another expression of institutionalized racism. In the U.S., racial profiling and police brutality have become an unfortunate reality of life for people of color, especially youth. It doesn’t matter whether it occurs in the inner city, a small town, or an upper-middle class suburb.

In a 2004 report entitled “Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security and Human Rights in the United States,” Amnesty International documented that in a year-long investigation, an estimated 32 million people had been racially profiled–the vast majority of them from nationally oppressed groups. One can only imagine how much these numbers have increased over the last five years, not only for those born in the U.S. but also for immigrants.  Since 9/11 there has been a corresponding increase in racial profiling targeting the Arab and Muslim communities.

The police have been, by far, the most feared perpetrators of racial profiling, and understandably so. Police harassment and brutality is an epidemic.  According to a 2008 report by the Washington, D.C. based Campaign for Youth Justice entitled ”Critical Condition: African American Youth in the Justice System” African American youth make up 30 percent of youth arrested while they represent only 17 percent of the overall youth population. Additionally, African American youth are 62 percent of the total number of youth prosecuted in the adult criminal system and are nine times more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence.

One only needs to remember how the Somerville 5 (5 Black youth from Somerville who were arrested on racist frame up charges by the Medford Police)  or the Jena 6 were treated.  Not to mention the racism that followed the devastation of the 9th Ward in New Orleans as a result of hurricane Katrina.

As the economic crisis deepens the ruling class will use all means at its disposal to foster artificial divisions between white workers and Black, Latina/o, and immigrant workers.  It is our responsibility to build a movement based on anti-racist, class-wide solidarity–as workers of all nationalities are losing their jobs, homes, health care and pensions in rapid numbers; and as the economic crisis becomes even more severe. Continue reading

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GRITtv | Henry Louis Gates’ Arrest: A Teachable Moment?

Lauraflanders-GRITtvJune112009821

Flanders

Flanders

There’s been an endless cycle of commentary on the Henry Louis Gates affair since the Harvard Professor was arrested in his home and President Obama made the off script remark that the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly.” Both men are now saying it is time to move on and that what happened was a teachable moment. But what, if anything, have we learned? Bill Fletcher, Jr., Executive Editor of Black Commentator, Ron Kuby a Civil Rights Attorney and the host of Doing Time with Ron Kuby on Air America, Dennis Parker, Director of the Racial Justice Program at the American Civil Liberties Union, and Rev. Irene Monroe, a Ford Fellow and Doctoral Candidate at Harvard Divinity School on race, class, and law enforcement in America. The ACLU has recently published a report on racial profiling that you can find here.

AlternetACLU: Racial Profiling “Widespread and Pervasive”

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Henry Louis Gates | mug shot | arrest report | Cambridge Police Department

Henry Louis Gates | mug shot

Henry Louis Gates | mug shot

Police reports detailing the July 2009 confrontation between Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Cambridge cops.
Gates' Incident Report | page 1

Gates' Incident Report | page 1

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Take Action to demand racist, anti-immigrant Maricopa County AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio be REMOVED IMMEDIATELY!

Fill in the Online Petitionhttp://www.may1.info/arpaiopetition.shtml to send a message to the Homeland Security Department, President Obama, Arizona Governor Brewer, Congressional leaders, the Arizona Congressional Delegation, the Arizona Legislature and members of the media telling them you want ARPAIO REMOVED IMMEDIATELY and the Homeland Security 287(g) contract with his office cancelled at once!

And on May 1 join thousands and thousands to demonstrate for worker and immigrant rights in cities throughout the country! For more information, go to www.may1.info

Text of the online petition message follows:

To: Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Homeland Security; Esther Olavarria, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy; ICE Director Torres; Arizona Governor Brewer
cc: President Obama, Attorney General Holder, U.N. Secretary-General Ban, Arizona Congressional Delegation, Congressional leaders, Arizona legislature and members of the media
Dear Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Homeland Security and Esther Olavarria, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Homeland Security, ICE Director Torres, Arizona Governor Brewer, Arizona legislators and Congressional leaders:

Remove Anti-Immigrant Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio from office NOW!

Cancel the Homeland Security Department’s 287(g) contract with Seriff Arpaio’s office IMMEDIATELY!

The entire country is appalled and outraged at the racist, anti-immigrant actions of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix, Arizona.

Arpaio’s racist history and abuse are well documented.

  • At his “Tent City” jail, temperatures can reach a deadly 150 degrees in the summer.
  • His practice of feeding prisoners just twice a day with spoiled food, his reinstatement of the chain gang and his cruel treatment of inmates–including those awaiting trial who have not been convicted of any crime–have already cost Maricopa County more than $46 million in lawsuit settlements.
  • His latest stunt of parading the victims of his racial profiling shackled and dressed in striped prison clothes, through the streets of Phoenix from the County Courthouse to his Tent City jail — a public humiliation — is reminiscent of slaves being paraded to the auction block, and is the latest and last outrage that the people of Arizona should have to endure.

The actions of Sheriff Arpaio in Phoenix, Arizona extend the militarization of the border to the entirety of Maricopa County. The actions of Sheriff Arpaio and his posse have declared open season on all people of color, including documented and undocumented immigrants, as well as people born in the U.S. The 287(g) Agreement now in place between the Sheriff of Maricopa County and the federal government has been implemented in violation of the constitutional right of Equal Protection and with blatant discriminatory enforcement tactics by Sheriff Arpaio.

I call upon the people of Maricopa County, the local and federal government, and all politicians to stop these perpetrators of hate and fear.

I call for the removal of Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio and for the end to the systematic practice of racial profiling and other discriminatory policies that have fostered a racist and hostile environment against immigrant and indigenous people.

Sincerely,
(your signature appended here).

Fill in the Online Petition @ http://www.may1.info/arpaiopetition.shtml


May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights
55 West 17 Street, #5C, New York, NY 10011
or
c/o Teamsters Local 808, 22-43 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, NY 11101
Tel: (212) 561.1744
may1@leftshift.org
www.may1.info

*******************
Action Center For Justice
www.charlotteaction.blogspot.com

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Asset Forfeiture | Highway Robbery in Texas

Police in small town Tenaha, Texas, near the Louisiana line, have found a way of turning law enforcement into a lucrative racket. According to a recently filed federal lawsuit, police there routinely stopped passing motorists — the vast majority of them black — and threatened them with felony arrests on charges such as money laundering unless they agreed to sign over their property on the spot.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/doj_asset_forfeiture.gif

More than 140 people accepted that Hobson’s choice between June 2006 and June 2008, according to court records cited by the Chicago Tribune, which ran a lengthy article on the practice this week. Among them was a black grandmother who handed over $4,000 in cash and an interracial couple from Houston who handed over $6,000 in cash after police threatened to arrest them and send their children to foster care. Neither the couple nor the grandmother were charged with any crime. The waiver form that the couple signed giving up their rights is particularly chilling. “We agree that this case may be taken up and considered by the Court without further notice to us during this proceeding. In exchange for this agreement, no criminal charges shall be filed on either of us as a result of this case, and our children shall not be turned over to CPS.”

Officials in Tenaha, which sits on a heavily traveled highway between Houston and popular gambling destinations in Louisiana, said they were fighting drug trafficking and were operating in accord with state asset forfeiture law, which allows local police agencies to keep drug money and other goods used in the commission of a crime.

“We try to enforce the law here,” said George Bowers, mayor of the town of 1,046 residents, where boarded-up businesses outnumber open ones and City Hall sports a broken window. “We’re not doing this to raise money. That’s all I’m going to say at this point,” he told the Tribune.

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