Constitutional Law in Criminal Justice
Driving While Black
The color of someone’s skin can be the source of many problems – specifically when you are black. This paper delves into one of the most common problems being faced by Black Americans – when the race and the law chase them on the road.
In this paper, we are going to describe the problems that the black population usually faces while they drive in different neighborhoods. We will also try to find out why these problems occur and the ways through which these problems can be solved. Here, we will also discuss the legal steps that an individual can take when s/he experiences any kind of harassment on the ground of race.
It is the duty of the law enforcement agencies to ensure law and order within the society. But when the people with the badges become stereotypical regarding a certain group of individuals simply because of their skin color, it does raise a whole lot of questions. Regardless of their race, religion, sex or country of origin, each and every individual should be treated equally and they should be allowed to practice their rights whenever they want and it is the duty of the authority to ensure that.
Why do Black Americans face such problems?
In a blog entry by Tomine (2010), he referred to DWB or driving while black as a crime. There is a greater possibility for the Black Americans to be stopped by the police and have their cars searched, or have the passengers checked if they are wanted by the police.
Tomine stressed that one of the causes of Black Americans being charged with driving while black is the racial profiling. Police authorities think that most Blacks are associated with crime and drugs. According to his blog entry, “In one state 70% of the drivers they found with drugs were in fact black. It seems to prove their suspicions – until, that is, you find out that 70% to 75% of the cars they stopped and searched belonged to blacks!”
Warren (2009) in his article published by The Atlantic stated that in 2008, 949 law enforcement agencies reported 2,518,825 traffic stops. Of these figures - the duration, reason, and outcome of the stops were analyzed by race to find out that whether any kind of racist perception played any role in such actions. The result revealed that African-Americans, Hispanic, and American Indian drivers were those who were frequently stopped. From the study, the issue of police biasness surfaced which can be linked back to racism. It was as if the police authorities already knew of the driver’s race even before they stopped them. Wrong conclusions about a driver’s race can lead to misconceptions that they are carrying firearms or contrabands in their vehicles. More so, associating the black color of the driver’s skin can also lead to wrong conclusions which can lead to harassments and even violence.
This is what happened in the famed 1998 driving while black case in the New Jersey Turnpike, as cited by Tomine. The news made it big because two police officers shot three young unarmed Latino and black males leaving them wounded only to find out during the search that the car had no guns or drugs, only a Bible and basketball equipments. The police officers might have been over cautious about the role of these three individuals simply because of their skin color.
The issue of driving while black continues to raise criticisms. It even sparked debates from across the country citing the injustice that many Black Americans get while driving just because they are black. Statistics might say that Black Americans are more likely to carry firearms and drugs while driving, but it doesn’t have to be the reason why police authorities should generalize that all blacks are associated with them.
Because of the increased awareness of the pubic, specifically the black population of their rights and of the issue, there seems to be cover-ups with the statistics released by police authorities and other