Saturday, October 21, 2006

It happens all the time...it's just easier for me to pretend it doesn't....

Wow – I was really frustrated today. OK, I was mad today. And sad. My daughter and I were out in the community picking up bags of food from porches for our food drive to help the local food pantry. Last week we passed out bags, and this week we went back to pick up the food that was left for us. Last week as we walked around the neighborhood we saw several police cars patrolling. We saw them again today. We wondered if they were watching us. We were driving slowly, taking things off porches, doing u-turns and not wearing seatbelts. Pretty suspicious I guess… We drove by the police several times and every time I was uneasy – but apparently we must have passed some test. They left us alone.
Not so with G and M. They were picking up in the same neighborhood as we were. The difference? They were African American. It made all the difference. They were stopped by the police and questioned. They were not doing anything different than my daughter and I. We had as much exposure to the same police officers as they did. Yet apparently some profiling was going on, and they were stopped and questioned and checked up on. It made me sad. I felt bad, and even embarrassed, both for them, and for the police. Not sure where I’m really going with this. I just know that I hurt deep inside for G and M and it made me really angry……

3 comments:

A said...

While I cannot say with any certainty that you are incorrect in your assumption that the only difference was your skin color, I would say that it is possible there were other factors. When I am on patrol I have a laptop in my car that has access to state and national databases of information via a wireless internet connection. Whenever I observe anyone doing something "out of the ordinary" I first run their license plate. That provides me with a lot of information, like traffic history and registered owner. I can then do a background check based on that owner information which provides even more history on the people like where they live, any criminal history, etc. If there is anything that is curious in this data, even prior traffic violations, I'll usually investigate further. That is what we are trained to do, and in the vast majority of instances, it leads to catching someone in the midst of some illegal activity, or prevents them from committing a crime. So, it is possible that they might have had some other reason to talk to your friends and not to you, depending on what info they may have received if they operate in a similar fashion.

Not trying to defend them if they were ethnicly profiling. There is no reason or excuse for that. But, not all officers engage in that, and there might have been other reasons for them checking on your friends and not you.

People sometimes assume that is what is happening when it didn't because they don't realize what an officer is doing. 9 times out of 10 I can't tell what race someone is when I initiate a traffic stop since I work at night. Yet I have had people assume that I pulled them over just because they were not white.

Matt Cav said...

that totally stinks.

gerbmom said...

Yeah A, I know that. I have a police scanner and I hear plates run all the time... And I also realize that I did not know anything about this guy and his child. I just know he was trying to teach his child to serve others and make a difference in someone's life, and instead his child got a lesson in apparent racism. It was just really disheartening.
And, I really have to wonder if they even ran my plates considering I was doing the exact same thing he was. Maybe it was just a case of an observant neighbor calling in a complaint about this guy and that was why he was pulled over. I'm sure there could have been a lot of reasons.
But I would say that it was daytime and quite obvious what we were doing. The interesting this is that this gentleman actually lived in this neighborhood....
Thanks for the reminder to consider other options before I jump to conclusions.....
But, still, I am disturbed.....