Racial Profiling Against African Americans By:Gabby Jarzin

Equality for All

“A recent wave of police violence against African Americans isn’t anything new. It’s just been caught on video.” (Peter Dreier, the American prospect) Racial Profiling against African Americans has been a national problem for hundreds of years and is an immense issue that the United States continues to face frequently. African Americans are often targeted by law enforcement only because of their race. With racial profiling many constitutional rights are violated such as stated by the American Civil Liberties Union “Racial profiling is patently illegal, violating the U.S. Constitution’s core promises of equal protection under the law to all and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.” Racial profiling is also doing much damage to communities with their being a divide between law enforcement and the African American citizens. Also, argued by the American Civil Liberties “It alienates communities from law enforcement, hinders community policing efforts, and causes law enforcement to lose credibility and trust among the people they are sworn to protect and serve.” Racial profiling is a clear civil injustice and it is a disappointment that African Americans continue to deal with this today.

Racial profiling is not only a current issue, but has also been occurring for hundreds of years before. In 1955, the murder of Emmett Till demonstrates how African Americans were falsely accused of their actions, when innocent. Emmett Till was a 14 year old African American boy who was visiting Mississippi from his home town, Chicago. Till walked into a local grocery store and was talking to the 21 year old white cashier women, while paying for his goods. Several nights later, the cashiers husband and half brother abducted Till and brutally beat him. Next, they fatally shot him and sunk his body in the river. This murder, “triggered widespread outrage, especially after his killers were caught and acquitted by an all white jury.” (the American prospect longform) With the murder of Till, the majority of whites sided with the defendants, only due to their race. Emmett Till’s case was so controversial and his side was never fairly discussed, in 2004 the United States Department of Justice decided to reopen the case. When doing so, an interview was conducted in 2008 by the women casier who stated, “she had fabricated her testimony that Till had made verbal or physical advances towards her.” (history.com) Emmett Till’s death sparked a new chapter in the Civil Rights movement, and soon after, African Americans began to protest and speak out much more for their equality. Throughout history, African Americans have continued to have an inferior voice in the Justice system. Similar to today, African Americans are frequently wrongly accused of their actions. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 6, 2016 many were peacefully protesting in the streets after Alton Sterling’s death. He was selling CD’s outside of a convenience store, when two Louisiana police officers approached him and noticed a gun in his pocket. Sterling had no intention to take out the gun and never did. “Here we have a witness who says Sterling possesses no serious threat, and a video that strongly suggests…” (the washington post) According to the Washington Post, Sterling was peacefully selling CD’s and had no intention to harm anyone. The gun in his pocket was most likely only for his safely because of his race, not to put violence on anyone else. Most of the townspeople were outraged by the actions of the police and want justice for Sterling. Both of these situations show how racial profiling has been an issue throughout history and also today.

"No change can come if those who are impacted the most by discrimination are not willing to stand up for themselves." Zainab Salbi

In the court system African Americans are feeling oppressed because of the way they are being treated and how white defendants are being acquitted when clearly they are at fault. This was alike to the case of Jimmie Lee Jackson in 1965, Lee was participating in a peaceful voting rights march when cops brutally beat him for no reason. He was unarmed and not a threat but the cops in the end killed him. When the cop who fatally shot Lee went to court he was not found guilty and could return to his job “Though Al Lingo, head of the state troopers, had sent an arrest warrant to Jackson while he was in the hospital, Fowler had faced no punishment or disciplinary action, and was allowed to continue in his job.” (biography of Jimmie Lee). There have been many similar situations today where the white defendant accused of murdering an innocent African American is acquitted even though the evidence clearly points at gilt. For example in the famous George Zimmerman case there was much controversy “On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. Martin, a black teenager dressed in a hoodie, was unarmed when Zimmerman killed him.”(Washington Post) Many Americans view him as a cold-blooded murdered who should have been convicted and spend the rest of his life in jail. All the evidence suggests that Martin was just an ordinary kid taking a walk through the neighborhood posing no threat to the community. Both in history and even today evidence shows that while African Americans somewhat have been protected more by the courts they are still not getting the fair trials they deserve.

There are countless ways ordinary citizens can get involved to help eliminate racial profiling. An organization, One America, strives to fight against “...everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, citizenship or immigration status.” (We Are One America) This act wants to introduce the “End Racial Profiling Act”, which would ban racial profiling at the federal, state and local level. Individuals have the ability to drive conversations and interaction between races by facilitating conversations and standing up to unconstitutional actions. The United States is a country that accepts all and a specific race should never be victimized.


Works Cited

Andrews, Travis M. "George Zimmerman’s Many, Many Controversies since the Trayvon Martin Case." The Washington Post. WP Company, 12 May 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/05/12/george-zimmermans-many-many-controversies-since-the-trayvon-martin-case/?utm_term=.72768a2a0926>.

Balko, Radley. "Opinion | Alton Sterling’s Death Appears to Be Another Police Shooting That Was Both Legal and Preventable." The Washington Post. WP Company, 06 July 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2016/07/06/alton-sterlings-death-appears-to-be-another-police-shooting-that-was-both-legal-and-preventable/?utm_term=.2595d5853801>.

"The Death of Emmett Till." The Death of Emmett Till. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.bing.com/cr?IG=E36CDCCECFF2401B8CB3FFC5ACA603E4&CID=2ED6B6916EA96FC70A9BBCDF6F986E53&rd=1&h=iSdM4LJ97Fq5iQ64v70a1GmPSB2DA_cnnNKfNZFl6e8&v=1&r=http%3a%2f%2fwww.history.com%2fthis-day-in-history%2fthe-death-of-emmett-till&p=DevEx,5065.1>.

"From Ferguson to Baton Rouge: Deaths of Black Men and Women at the Hands of Police." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-police-deaths-20160707-snap-htmlstory.html>.

"Jimmie Lee Jackson." Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 09 Oct. 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <http://www.biography.com/people/jimmie-lee-jackson-21402111>.

Kutner, Max. "Police Are Killing Fewer Unarmed Black Men." Newsweek. N.p., 09 Jan. 2017. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <http://www.newsweek.com/police-killings-unarmed-black-men-538542>.

Meehan, Albert J., and Michael C. Ponder. "Race and Place: The Ecology of Racial Profiling African American Motorists." Justice Quarterly 19.3 (2002): 399-430. Web.

"Racial Profiling." American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <https://www.aclu.org/issues/racial-justice/race-and-criminal-justice/racial-profiling>.

"Racial Profiling: Face the Truth Campaign." Racial Profiling: Face the Truth Campaign | OneAmerica. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <http://weareoneamerica.org/racial-profiling-face-truth-campaign>.

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