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Some studies have shown that African American men are more likely to be stopped or searched. Fridell (2001) stated, that a recent survey of 1,087 police chiefs have found that about 60% think that racial biased policing was not a problem versus only 29% feel that the problem was only minor. Blacks seem to feel that they are being treated as common criminals. This means that when it is a crime or traffic stop, they automatically get in trouble for the crime. Weitzer and Tuch (1999) said, Blacks and Hispanics who have been stopped were more likely than whites to report they have been ticketed, arrested, handcuffed, or searched by police, and also they were more likely to report that the officer(s) have either threatened, or even used force against them.
In traffic stops, it mostly involves African American men because they may be driving an expensive vehicle, or even because of their skin color. This is called DWB, or “Driving While Black.” An example of this took place in Santa Monica, California. The incident occurred when two unarmed black men, names George Washington and Darryl Hicks, into parking garage at a hotel where they were staying at the time. Ford (1996) stated, two black men were ordered to get out of the car. They got out of the car while the officers had them at gunpoint. They both were handcuffed and placed in separated cars as the officers began searching the vehicle and checking them for identification. The police allegedly assumed the two black men fit the description of two other black men who were involved in a chain of armed robberies. After being proven they were not the two men that were in connection with the robberies, both Washington and Hicks filed a lawsuit against the officers.
Carbado (2002) said, as a result of racial vulnerability, a black man is more likely to have several encounters with police. During these encounters, the officer(s) may ask the man to show his identification for proof, have him explain where he is traveling to and from, and the officer(s) also may ask if he uses, distributes, or even manufactures any drugs.
Sometimes a black man is racially profiled against because of the way he is dressed. Fredrickson and Siljander (2002) stated an airport detention that led to the arrest of person who fit the description of a money courier. They also stated that person who was arrested in the investigation was a Black man. The black man was flamboyantly dressed and was wearing heavy gold jewelry. There was a white man, who was an attorney, was dressed the same way as the black man, but wasn’t arrested for loitering around in the airport for several hours. The defense argued that everything is equal, except race, has proven the white man was not questioned, and the black man was detained because of the color of his skin.
When it comes to serious crimes, blacks are more likely than whites to be convicted of the crimes committed. Whites are arrested six of eight times for crimes like rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, and for African Americans are more likely to be arrested for serious crimes like murder and robbery. See Figure 1. Free (1996) says, historically African Americans are more likely than whites to be sentenced to death for the crimes they have committed. Studies show that between 1930 and 1985 there were 3,909 executions in the United States. Over half that were executed have been African Americans. In the state of Texas thirteen African Americans were executed for murdering whites, but a lot of whites were not executed for murdering African Americans between 1977 and 1984.
Muharrar (1998) stated, television viewers are accustomed to seeing African American crime suspects on the local news even when the race of a suspect was not specified. Suspects as they appear on television, over half who saw a “white” perpetrator has recalled his race, but about 67%, or two-thirds did when the viewers depicted the suspect as black. About 90% of false recognitions involved African Americans and or Hispanics.
African Americans have also experienced police brutality against them. An example of police brutality took place on March 2, 1991. This was the day that Rodney King was severely beaten by four Los Angeles police officers. King was struck several
times by metal batons, he was kicked, and stomped by these officers while handcuffed. There was an all white jury at the trial. The jury’s verdict was “not guilty.” It was because of the “not guilty” verdict the streets of Los Angeles were filled with angry and outraged black citizens. Another example took place in New York City. White officers of the New York City Police Department were acquitted of the shooting death of African American male, Amadou Diallo. Diallo was shot 41 times by the officers because they assumed he was reaching in his pocket to pull out a gun. Diallo was reaching in his pocket for his wallet to get his house key. ALCU (1999) states that police abuse continues to be a major civil liberties problem in the United States, particularly in poor communities and communities of color. The purpose of this research is to investigate the police brutalities and racial profiles that white police officers of the United States display against African Americans, especially against African American males. White police officers have been known to show their dislikes towards African American males by excessive force, pulling them over on state highways for no reason, or just to harass them because of the color of their skin, it has also been known for the police to shoot and kill black men because the officers claim that some black men fit the description of suspects in a robbery, or even in a homicide case. In a lot of cases majority of black men are innocent, but not allowed the opportunity to prove their innocence.
The participants in this study are the police departments in California, Missouri, and New York. The police departments were determined by the location to see if there is a different response from stations in small towns compared to the police stations in big cities. The percentage of minorities in the cities determined what police stations to use because the study needs a diverse group of police stations to call on the telephone. The research will also explore coastal positions and will make a difference. For example, will they cooperate with the survey mainly on the east coast compared to the west coast?
The researchers found telephone numbers of the police departments from the three states on the internet. A script was used to call the police stations in each state to ask if they would like to participate in the racial profiling survey.
The researchers called approximately 25 police stations, and only received 19 responses. The researchers will find the police department list from the Internet and books in the library to determine where the police stations are located, and the population of the city. Next they found the minority population in each state to measure. When calling the police departments the researchers read the script (Appendix A) so maintain consistency with the project. After receiving all the answers from the department the researchers tallied the data to compare size of the city to percentage of African Americans in each state.
A chi-square test of independence was calculated comparing the size of the city and their willingness to participate in the racial profiling survey. No significant relationship was found (chi-square (1)=. 223, p>.05). The size of the city appears to be independent.
The generality is that the researchers believed if the data was collected in another state, like Florida, then the results would be the same if they had the same limitations. There was also a question of what location. If the researchers went inside the police stations in the state of Missouri, would the station’s answers be different if they were to send out a formal letter with the survey attached to it, and would they have gotten a significant effect. They doubt if the results would change with a letter because the police stations do not have to respond, even with phone messages. In conclusion researchers do not think results would have change unless the number of participants were more, and there were a variety of big and small states.
Person calling: Hello, my name is_______________.
Officer: How may I help you?
Person calling: I’m an undergraduate student at a college in Northwest Missouri, and I’m doing a research project on racial profiling.
Officer: all right.
Person calling: I was wondering would your precinct be interested in filling out a survey on racial profiling?
Officer: answers yes or no.
Person calling: (if answer is no) thank you for your time. (If answer is yes) when will be a good time to bring the survey to you?
Officer: (tells person when).
Person calling: I will see you (what ever day told), and thank you for your time.
American Liberties Civil Union: Most black men profiled by police, poll says (2001, June 21). Washington Post, (np). Retrieved January 21, 2003, from,
http:// www.alcu.org/news/NewsPrint.cfm? ID=7065&c=118.
Carbado, D.W. (2002). Racing the fourth amendment. Michigan Law Review, 100, 946-1044.
Ford, A. United by anger. (1996, November 6). Los Angeles Times, (np). Retrieved January 21, 2003, from http://www.math.buffalo.edu/~sww/racialprofiling/stories.dwb.html.
Fredrickson, D.D. & Siljander, R.P. (2002). Racial profiling: Eliminating the confusion between racial and criminal profiling and clarifying what constitutes unfair discrimination and persecution. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Ltd.
Free, M.D., Jr. (1996). African Americans and the criminal justice system. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.
Muharrar, M. ( 1998, September-October). Extra: Media blackface: “Racial profiling” in news reporting. (Np). Retrieved January 21, 2003, from http://www.fair.org/extra/9809/media-blackface.html.
Weitzer, R. & Tuch, S.A. (2002). Perceptions of racial profiling: Race, class, and personal experience. Journal of Criminology, 40, 435-456.
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