racial profiling

Two white cops charged with crimes after shooting black men who were fleeing

But being charged is a long way from being convicted:

A white Pennsylvania police officer was charged with criminal homicide just eight days after fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager in the back in a case built quickly on the testimony of multiple witnesses, video and the officer's own conflicting statements.

"You do not shoot someone in the back if they are not a threat to you," Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said. East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld was charged Wednesday in the June 19 shooting death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. after the teen fled from a traffic stop.

In this case, the officer in question was brand new, had just been sworn in less than two hours before this shooting took place. Meaning, he probably wasn't allowed to carry a sidearm until then. But he wasn't a "rookie" in the classic sense, he had been a cop for the University of Pittsburgh for six years prior to this, until he was terminated for cause (don't know the cause yet, so don't click it). So there was apparently something hinky about this guy that was known beforehand, just as there was in this Georgia case also being prosecuted:

On racial profiling and the court of public opinion

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Excerpts from an encounter:

“I’m very pissed off,” Brockman responded. “I think if I was a white representative that you guys would’ve been like ‘OK, sorry sir.’”

The trooper said race had nothing to do with it.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety said the traffic stop was handled professionally.

Brockman claimed that what was inaudible is that the officer questioned whether the BMW he was driving was stolen. Brockman said that should not have been in doubt because it had a special House member license plate on it.

Somebody save us from hard-headed police chiefs

No amount of studious research can fix stupid:

The workload could be reallocated away from petty marijuana arrests, City Council, the mayor and social justice advocates say. Although Lopez says DPD has never prioritized low-level pot busts, the ones that occur still disproportionately affect people of color. White pot smokers get away with it; blacks do not.

To which Lopez, ever charismatic, replied, “I would recommend to people concerned about this issue that they not smoke marijuana.”

Setting aside for a moment the harmless (and often medically helpful) nature of marijuana and the moral imperative to decriminalize it, when your racially-tuned crime-control dragnet scoops up a heck of a lot more people of color than their white counterparts, busting those otherwise innocent kids for small quantities of marijuana represents a horrifically "unjust" system. Two eighteen year-old boys, both recreational pot users. One gets busted and his future darkens, the other easily flies under police radar and stumbles through UNC on the five-year plan. It''s the difference between making $25,000 per year and $55,000. Just felt like throwing some numbers out there. It's not always about bad choices or bad luck, there are institutional factors that play a part. We can't easily fix the choices thing, but we can (and should) address those institutional problems.

The dangers of driving while black in North Carolina

NC's racial profiling problem once again makes national news:

The same gap prevailed when officers cited probable cause to search without permission. Officers searched blacks at more than twice the rate of whites, but found contraband only 52 percent of the time, compared with 62 percent of the time when the driver was white.

If those statistics are true, Chief Scott said, “we need to figure out how we can better serve our community in a fairer way.”

The only way to do that is to drastically reduce the number of "probable cause" traffic stops that take place. It's a subjective analysis to begin with, and you simply can't "train" people to ignore prejudicial thoughts that mostly stem from the entertainment industry's reliance on stereotypical portrayals. Etymological note: The word suspicion emerged shortly after the end of the Dark Ages, and was most often associated with religious tribunals who suspected that many people were under the influence of Satan. And the overwhelming majority of the population in Europe and later the New World were wholly supportive of the Inquisitors' judgments. Until it was their turn on the rack. Back to the article, and some hopeful developments:

Alamance County Sheriff not off the hook yet

I wonder how he feels about having to look over his shoulder constantly?

The U.S. Justice Department is appealing a judge's ruling clearing a North Carolina sheriff of allegations he ordered deputies to target Hispanic residents for enforcement, violating their civil rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said it had received complaints about Johnson, his deputies, and their treatment of Latinos for years. Johnson denied the allegations. The Republican was elected to a fourth four-year term in November after running unopposed.

It's bad enough that he runs his office like a tyrant, using his deputies as a blunt object with which to strike out against imagined dark-skinned enemies. But in order to create like-minded drones, he sends his deputies off to anti-immigrant indoctrination camps, as well:

Voter suppression judge gives pass to Alamance County Sheriff

Choosing to ignore blatant racial profiling by law enforcement:

The Justice Department also alleged that Johnson said “bring me some Mexicans” during a staff meeting in January 2007. “In eliciting this statement, the government made no effort to provide any context, and none was given,” Schroeder wrote in his opinion. “The court is doubtful that the claimed statement was made, especially in the unsupported context.” Johnson denied making the statement.

Two sheriff’s employees testified that Johnson said to “go get those/some Mexicans,” but both deputies said the statements were made in reference to a Mexican gang that the sheriff’s office was investigating for possible criminal activity, according to the opinion. “It does not indicate that the sheriff ever directed his deputies to arrest individuals simply because they were from Mexico or were Hispanic,” Schroeder wrote.

Bolding mine. This judge is beginning to sound more like a defense attorney representing plainly guilty parties than an objective observer. In one breath he "doubts" the racist statement was made, and in another breath he admits it probably was but was simply misunderstood. I'm sure nobody reading this would want a Federal judge who was a rubber stamp for the DOJ. But we also don't need one with barely-concealed contempt for the agency, especially when it comes to Civil Rights issues. Needless to say, this racial profiling decision gives me even more reason to believe Schroeder will rule in favor of the GOP vote suppressors in the next few weeks, so the time to begin preparing the appeal is yesterday.

Will the "police body camera" bill ever make it to the NCGA floor?

The Magic 8-Ball sez, "Don't hold your breath."

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus said Wednesday that they expect a bill to be filed when the General Assembly reconvenes in January that would require some, if not all, law enforcement officers in North Carolina to wear body cameras on duty.

The Legislative Black Caucus also plans to file anti-profiling legislation next year, said Rep. Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg.

Two major challenges to getting such legislation enacted: 1) Many GOP Legislators refuse to believe racial profiling even occurs, and 2) Most of those who would acknowledge it's happening believe it's not just okay, it's good police work. As such, the anti-profiling bill is dead on arrival, destined to collect dust in one committee or another, and the police body camera bill will probably do likewise, until some Republican writes a different one that merely "studies" the practice, possibly choosing as a test case some Mayberry-ish town with a one-bullet deputy sporting a camera. Prove me wrong, please.

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