The year is 2015 and racial profiling is still an extreme problem in America. Whether people want to admit it or not, certain people are being killed by the police more than others due to racial profiling. In my short 20 years of life, I have been the victim of racial profiling and I have seen countless examples in the media of people that bear the same skin I do. As a black man living in America, I truly believe that AB 953, the Racial and Identity Profiling Act, is a monumental step in ameliorating the relationship between the community and the police.
AB 953 is extremely vital because it requires all police departments in California to collect statistics on the racial makeup of everyone the police stop, as well as the time, date and reason for the stop. The belief is that with this new law, police departments and American citizens will finally be able to determine the validity of the claim that the police “racially profile” certain individuals over others. In theory, it sounds like everybody should support this law because the purpose of the police is to “protect and serve” the community, but there has been severe backlash from the law enforcement community. Their major concern is that this new law will prevent them from actually policing the community because they have to focus more on menial tasks.
Lieutenant Steve James, president of the Long Beach Police Officers Association, claims that AB 953 is a “terrible piece of legislation” and also believes that “there is no racial profiling … there is just criminal profiling.” I truly can’t comprehend uneducated statements such as these when there is overwhelming evidence about the racial disparities in who the police target or label as criminals. In counting the number of unarmed people killed by police from January 2015 to May 2015 from the U.S. Census, minorities constitute almost two-thirds of the people killed in comparison to whites. Statistics like these clearly depict the reality of America in 2015 and why racial profiling is such a pertinent issue.
Furthermore, everybody knows at least one person in their life or through the media that has gone through this discrimination and this alone should be reason enough for people to want to end this epidemic. I truly believe we are one humanity, coexisting with people from all different backgrounds, skin colors, etc. But, if some don’t care about certain issues just because they only occur to certain people, then how connected is everyone to their fellow man? America is built upon the fundamental value that all men are created equal; so why then are minorities being murdered by the police at alarming rates?
The passing of AB 953 is also significant because a very similar bill was vetoed in 1999 by Governor Gray Davis. In only 16 years, society’s perspective on racial profiling has changed so dramatically that the bill was able to succeed. I really want to believe that racial profiling is a myth and that all cops don’t intend to use deadly force against minorities so often, but that just isn’t the truth.
Furthermore, Melina Abdullah, a Pan-African studies professor at Cal State LA had this to say, “If I were law enforcement I’d think of AB 953 as an opportunity to demonstrate that we aren’t racially profiling … the resistance signals to me and many others that there is a lot of racial profiling happening.” I am in support of Professor Abdullah’s comments because the law enforcement agencies should have nothing to hide, and if they are covering up anything, AB 953 will finally bring it to light. Additionally, instead of these police murders of minorities being “isolated” events, they will now have substantial data and will be able to recognize patterns in bias policing.
Racial profiling is something very alive and real that needs to be paid attention to. A problem left alone doesn’t improve, and thus I applaud Governor Brown, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and everyone who was instrumental in the passing of AB 953 and making a strong step toward living in a more equal world.