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Blind Nation Essay, Research Paper

Blind Nation

The color of our skin automatically makes us a suspect in today?s stereotypical world. ?Despite the civil rights victories of 30 years ago, official skin color prejudice is still reflected throughout the Criminal Justice System.? (Racial profiling, A.C.L.U) Many African Americans know that we are dealing with a subtle form of discrimination, and that our nation has gone blind. We live in a country where Jim Crow ?Justice? is still enforced. The question arises about if we had made any progress since the civil rights movement. There are many incidents that show that our Criminal Justice System is being unfair and bias towards African Americans. Many African Americans are innocent victims of harsh, brutal police abuse, racial discrimination in police shooting, and racial profiling. Many organizations have tired in the past, and still are trying to protect the civil rights of African Americansthat are innocent victims.

Police brutality towards African Americans has been a problem in the past and is still very much a problem in the present. March 3,1991, the beating of a young black man named Rodney King projected the brutal reality of police abuse towards black people. The Rodney King incident exposed a new form of subtle discrimination towards the black community. Several officers beat King, who was dragged, clubbed, and hit with a Taser gun, while 23 other officers watch the horrible beating. King suffered skull fractures and nerve damages to his face. When the officers involved were brought to trial and found not guilty of the charges pressed against them, riots broke out in then city of Los Angeles. A year later the officers were trailed again and found guilty. They were sentenced prison time. Incidents like this happen all the time and have to stop. Another example, of police abuse towards Americans of color happened in December 1996. Two black men died in handcuffs at the hands of the Palm Beach County sheriff?s deputies in Florida. Lyndon Stark, age 48, died of asphyxia in a cloud of pepper spray while his hands were handcuffed. In February 1997, James Wilson, 37, an unarmed motorist was kicked and punched by three Hartford, Connecticut police officers after a brief chase which ended in front of the Bloomfield Police Station. The beating was so intense that other police officers intervened to stop the fight. These victims of police brutality were all black. It is a fact that abuses by the police remains a significant problem in our country.

Many states have permitted officers to use deadly force when it?s deemed necessary. Many officers use extreme measures under inappropriate circumstances. For example the case, Tennessee vs. Garner, involved Edward Garner, a 15 year-old unarmed kid, who was shot and killed while running from the police. In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for a police officer to shoot a suspect in event of himer trying to run, if they do not pose an immediate danger to the officer and the public. Statistics show a clear pattern of racial discrimination in the table below provided by Memphis Police Department.(James J. Fyfe, Blind Justice: Police Shootings in Memphis)

Person Shot and KilledWhiteBlack

Armed and Assaultive57

Unarmed and Assaultive26

Unarmed and Not Assaultive113

Incidents like these aren?t rare. They occur on a regular basis. It?s usually a minority person that is the victim of being shot and killed, even though he\she was not armed and not assaultive. Another incident like this occurred in New York City, to Amadou Diallo, a black man who was shot 41 times by the police. Examples of police abuse cause many Americans (particularly those of color) to distrust the police.

Many African Americans have had their problems with law enforcement in the past and in the present. The color of their skin makes them a suspect to policemen who are prejudice. A new subtle discrimination has been enforced by police officers in the last decade that is now becoming a serious problem. Many policemen are bias and think that an African American person should not be driving luxurious cars, and if they do it automatically makes them a suspect. It is morally wrong and unlawful to make false accusation based on someone?s skin color. The Civil Rights Movement gave us the right not to be judged based upon our religion, sex, or race. Many policemen disregard this law and make racial accusations towards people of color anyways. ? They may not evoke the feelings of ?Let my people go? or ?We shall overcome.? But for Americans subjected to the embarrassment and fear of even relatively minor episodes of discrimination based on race- ?driving while black? or ?dining while black,? to use the bitter slang for such events ? the hurt is very real nevertheless.? (Brad Knickerboxer, New Face on Racism). The problem that we are dealing with is called racial profiling. It substitutes skin color for evidence as grounds of suspicion by law enforcement. There are many innocent victims of racial profiling across the country. Racial profiling has become a federal civil rights issue. Many Africans Americans including actors, members of congress, and business leaders have been humiliated by being stopped because of their skin color. It is an issue called ?Driving While Black.? In a survey provided by the A.C.L.U., they found that 73% of the people that had stopped on a Maryland interstate were African Americans, while they only make up 14% of the people driving on the busy interstate. With the number of growing allegations that police are using racial profiling to decide which motorists to pull over, some states are gathering information to see who is actually being stopped for alleged traffic violations. Many minority leaders are saying that if you were to gather information to see who is actually being pulled over, it would show that African Americans are routinely stopped for what they call ?Driving While Black.? ? The primary reason that police department have been able to get away with racial profiling is because they refuse to collect the evidence that would prove that problem exists.? (Michelle Alexander of the American Civil Liberties Union?s Racial Justice Project) This has been happening for the past decade or so. ? This is an issue that has been affecting police community relations not only in the state, but in the country? it is a high time for law enforcement to take this issue seriously.? (John Crew, A.C.L.U.) It is not fair African Americans to be victimized by racial profiling.

These problems are long overdue and most come to an end. Many organizations are trying to protect the civil rights of African Americans whose rights are being violated throughout the country. We cannot continue living on with racism and discrimination in our presence. There are a lot of people who still do not know about the hidden racism in today?s society. ?Many people are unaware of the degree to which zero tolerance, blindly applied, produces unfair results. Misperceptions and stereotypes often play a subtle role in shaping the outcome of decision-making in individual institutions. These disparities really do raise questions that have not been adequately answered.?(Brad Knickerboxer, New Face on Racism). There are official police profiles that suggest the targeting of black males, not because they are racially inferior but because they are statistically (according to the police, anyhow) more likely to commit crimes. The stereotypes are too pervasive. They must take responsibility for their use of these stereotypes and do their best not to allow situations to escalate based on statistics. Law enforcement decisions based on hunches rather than evidence are going to suffer from racial stereotyping. Although many law enforcement officials deny the problem of racial profiling, there is strong and compelling evidence that racial profiling occurs on our roads and highways throughout the

country and is a nationwide problem that demands a solution.

Works Cited

Fyfe J., James, Blind Justice: Police Shootings in Memphis)

Knickerboxer, Brad. New face on Racism-The Christian Science Monitor,


?Driving While Black-racial profile under study?, 2 June 1999, CNN News,


?Racial Profiling?, A.C.L.U., http://www.aclu.org/profiling.com.

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