Racial Profiling: Traffic Stops and Tyranny

Paz! Tau!

Las matematicas de hoy es "poder". En Ingles.., "poder" is "power". It was once said that 'true power', only comes through the truth. It is through the power of truth do we see the essence of what it means to be "powerful". Not powerful in terms of money or material accumulation. Not "power" in terms of forcing your will upon others. Power, as in the ability to influence people, places and things and most importantly, ones' self. The "power" to bring change to our own lives. Unfortunately, we live in a society where power is abused. It is misconstrued as a privilege and not something that beings are endowed with from their creation. Thus, it is dangled in front of our faces and we are taunted and teased by the misconception that we "have no power" over the conditions in our lives, especially in regards to the government's influence in out lives. They create policy that allows them to excercise unnecessary displays of economic, social and cultural heirarchy and which further instigate tension amongst the masses. "Power" is very much in perception. If you are perceived as "powerless" then there is always someone seeking to have "power" over you. And those who think that they have "power" over you are, in the universal scheme of things, really the powerless, because they operate not on their own accord, but on someone else's. They operate under someone's influence and will. Just as the police do. Nevertheless, the disgusting display of abused power is nothing more than a tool or method of instilling paranoia and fear in the population. Can someone say terrorism?

"FIGHT THE POWER!"- Public Enemy, from the 'Apocalypse 91' album

So what power do we have against or over racial profiling? Let's build!

Traffic stops and race

Most traffic stops in Illinois end in a ticket or a warning and nothing more. But in a small percentage—about 1 in 100—the police ask to search the vehicle.

That's called a "consent search." New statistics show that about 9 out of 10 times, drivers—white, black or Hispanic—say OK.

The stats also show that these searches are impressively productive in turning up drugs and other contraband.

But the American Civil Liberties Union and others want these searches stopped because of a disparity revealed in those statistics: The cops ask Hispanics and blacks more frequently to consent to searches than they do whites.

You're three times more likely if you're black and more than twice as likely if you're Hispanic to be subjected to such a search during a traffic stop.

That is unfair and unwarranted, the advocates say. For that matter, police find contraband less often with black and Hispanic motorists than they do with whites.

But let's slow down here. These stats show that such searches are:

•Rare. The number of consent searches was small—slightly more than 23,000 out of the more than 2.4 million traffic stops conducted in the state last year. Police in the state searched 1.9 out of 100 black motorists who were stopped, 0.6 out of 100 whites and 1.5 out of 100 Hispanics.

•Valuable. The searches often find contraband like drugs in vehicles. Almost a quarter of the time, police find contraband in vehicles driven by white drivers. They find it about 14 percent of the time in cars with black drivers and 11 percent of the time with Hispanics. That is a significant success rate.

Racial profiling—stopping motorists because of race or ethnicity—is unjust and repugnant. It is toxic to public confidence in law enforcement and the cornerstone notion that we enjoy equal protection under the law.

We've supported the collection of statewide data on such stops, which began in 2003 at the urging of then-state Sen. Barack Obama and other lawmakers.

And we continue to support more scrutiny into whether police are making stops for reasons that involve race or ethnicity.

The answer, though, isn't to ban all cops from asking motorists to agree to a search. That's a valuable law enforcement tool. The better alternative: Train cops about when searches are warranted and ferret out cops who abuse the authority.

Article originally posted by "The Latin Americanist"; original source- http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0731edit3jul31,0,7794156.story

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