Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More on Racial Profiling

 I thought I would elaborate a little more on a comment I made about racial profiling. In 2007, a report was done by the Department of Justice that found that blacks and Hispanics were not only pulled over more than whites, but were also roughly three times as likely to be searched during a traffic stop. In fact, a 2005 study showed that whites had criminal evidence 14.5 percent of the time, compared to 13 percent for Hispanics and a shocking 3.3 percent for Blacks (Department, 1). In addition to the wealth of hard statistical evidence, there are thousands upon thousands of personal accounts of racial profiling that can be seen frequently as features on TV news and found on websites such as Racial Profiling Data Collection Resource Center, a Northeastern University entity that chronicles weekly occurrences of racial profiling around the country. With this in mind, it’s obvious that racial profiling is not a secret… but why is the “strategy” ubiquitous in all major cities in the U.S.?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written and instated in 1948 and motivated by the atrocities of the Holocaust during World War II, is a list of 30 rights that each human upon this earth possesses. These rights were created to promote justice around the world under the values of equality, brotherhood, and respect for others. A human right preserves the humanity of an individual, they protect us from one another by instilling a claims-to and a claims-against any injustice done to a person. A violation of human rights occurs when a person is not being treated as fully human, but merely as a means to another motive. The Universal Declaration is widely acknowledged as a beacon of justice, and while every unjust act might not be a violation of the Declaration, every violation of the Declaration is certainly an unjust act. When looking at the list of thirty rights, one can see some of the obvious injustice in racial profiling.

   Most blatantly, racial profiling infringes upon Article 9: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest.” Quickly, let’s define the term “innocent” as it will be used in this paper. In U.S. law
and as mentioned in Article 11 of the Declaration, a person is innocent until proven guilty. I will take a
step further and defining an innocent person as one who has done nothing to even indicate that they are guilty of a crime. With that in mind, it is clear that one of the primary defenses of racial profiling is to pull over random (innocent!) people because it is reasonable to assume that something can be found on their person that violates the law, such as narcotics or unlicensed weapons. It is a much more convoluted and layered act than those who accept it to be reasonable would suggest. The fact that innocent blacks and Hispanics from poor neighborhoods can be pulled over without any outward display of breaking a law is not only not merely “reasonable,” but also a clear violation of Article 9 of the UDHR and an injustice that has catalyzed the previously mentioned negative attitude and distrust of the police in low income neighborhoods.

1 comment:

  1. The amount of injustice in racial profiling is absurd. As a white female I tend to be on the opposite end of this profiling. Like Henry said, blacks and Hispanics are pulled over more than whites, and in general, males tend to be pulled over more than females. So obviously in a way I benefit from this racial profiling, but I think that it is absolutely ridiculous that I can even say that.
    Another example of racial profiling, I believe can be found right here in Memphis at Rhodes. A lot of people talk about that fact that the Memphis police favor Rhodes students. So this is simply profiling, not necessarily racial profiling. I always hear about how when students get in trouble with the cops they just tell them they are from Rhodes and they almost always get off the hook. Once again, I benefit here but that fact does not take away from the absurdity of the situation.