Racial Profiling Essays

Submitted By alliebelle332
Words: 996
Pages: 4

Judging a Book by its Cover In September of 2002 on his way home from John F. Kennedy airport in New York, Maher Arar was detained for two weeks by American officials before being deported to Syria where he was tortured for almost a year. Maher is an average law-abiding citizen. He was born in Syria but immigrated to Canada when he was a still young. All his suffering was brought on because he was a Middle-Eastern man who was loosely connected to a suspected member of a terrorist organization (Nelson). All the officials saw was Maher’s race, and because of one mistaken belief by law enforcement, Maher lost a year of his life. Profiling is the practice of observing aspects of a person’s behavior that is cause for suspicion in others. Profiling, in some instances, is an effective way to spot a suspect or criminal, but there are many limitations on profiling. Racial profiling is becoming suspicious of a person based on stereotypes or generalizations about their race or ethnicity. Police in some parts of the United States use someone’s race as cause for questioning or searches of property.
The race that has be the target of the most criticism and racial injustice has changed over the past fifty years. In and around the 1960s until recently, it has been African-Americans and Hispanics. After 9/11, when a group of Muslims took down the World Trade Center, the focus quickly shifted to people from the Middle-East. United States law enforcement should never be able to use racial profiling as a justifiable enforcement tool because it is ineffective and unconstitutional. Racial profiling is also seen in the War on Drugs. New laws to combat drug trafficking on the streets has led to more policing in dominantly black neighborhoods. With these new laws came a new generalization about African American people; they are all involved with drugs. Police would follow a vehicle until a minor traffic violation occurred, and then would search the car for evidence of drugs. More times that not, the driver was African American. If the driver refused to let them search their car, they would be arrested. There was much controversy surrounding this method and later this type of profiling was declared illegal. Nevertheless, incidents of racial profiling continued to escalade thought the 1990s(Hanes). Racial profiling in ineffective and has many more costs than gains. For example, seventy percent of the vehicles that were stopped and searched on Maryland highways had African-American drivers, even though only around seventeen percent of speeders on those roads are African-American or Hispanic (Cole). Police are known to target black or Hispanic drivers because they think that they are more likely to be involved in criminal activity than those who are of other ethnicities. This shows that racial profiling is often ineffective. David Erik Nelson, writer for the Greenhaven Press says: “It is difficult to assess the full cost of racial profiling, taking into account monetary costs, time wasted, suffering endured, the loss of trust in law enforcement, and the degradation of the United States' standing in the international community”(Nelson). Since many police officers are focusing on stopping and searching people that are minorities, there become tremendous costs to racial profiling. When police are focusing on minor violations committed by an African American, they may let someone else commit a more serious violation. Profiling based solely on the race of a person is unlawful and unconstitutional. One of the most common examples of racial profiling is on the roadways. On an analysis of 1,000 videos of Florida state troopers during traffic stops shows that seventy to eighty percent of drivers that were searched and/or pulled over where African-American or Hispanic. Also in that study, the Orlando Sentinel showed that the overall population of the road was only made up of five percent of the