Racial Profiling and The Police

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Discussion: Racial Profiling & the Police

Step 1

Read this story:

“Racial Profiling in LA: the Numbers Don’t Lie.”
http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/23/opinion/oe-ayres23 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Step 2

Watch this video clip:

“The Scars of Stop and Frisk”
http://www.nytimes.com/video/2012/06/12/opinion/100000001601732/the-scars-of-stop-and-frisk.html?ref=stopandfrisk (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Step 3

Go to this link, and conduct research on racial profiling in New York City:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/07/11/nyregion/20100711-stop-and-frisk.html?ref=stopandfrisk (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Click on the interactive map, and write down some numbers (pay attention to race and class dynamics.)

Step 4

Now go to this link, which gives you an overview of violent homicides in Los Angeles. If you are from LA County, find your city, and compare it to other safer or more dangerous areas.

http://projects.latimes.com/homicide/map/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Click on “Current View” and select “All Years”.

Take some time to look at various regions in LA County.

Next, examine the racial demographics of the victims. You will note, African Americans and Latinos are heavily over represented as victims of murders. This means, these groups disproportionately are victims of violent crime. The challenge here is to think sociologically and not “blaming the victims.” What structural conditions in our society shape this situation (look for hints from your book).

Let’s think about LA for a moment. It is a city divided along race and class lines, just as New York City is. The poorest parts are disproportionately black or brown. The highest unemployment rates and highest violence crime rates also fit this dynamic. What areas of the city do we say are “good areas” and which are “bad areas”? Who lives there?

Step 5

Write a 300-word minimum reflection post on all the information you took in. Point out specific examples to support your claims. Also, spend some time thinking about your own experiences.

Racial profiling is more than just the actions of a “few bad apple” police officers. It is structural. Racism in built into the very justice system. Do you believe you have you ever been stopped by the police because of your race? Have you ever witnessed racial profiling? Did this have an impact on how you view the police? Alternatively, if you have never been subject to racial profiling, how do you think that has affected your view of the police? Discuss either your racial privilege or your experiences with racism in regard to your exposure

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