By Julio Delgado
Racial profiling and police brutality cases are on the rise. This year alone, Michael Brown, an unarmed black male, was killed by a police officer on August 9th, 2014. Eric Garner, another unarmed black male, was put in a chokehold by law enforcement officials and strangled to death on July 17th, 2014. Even though these incidents happened several months ago, the Internet and news are still talking about these cases. The similarities in these incidents raise the question of racial discrepancies in law enforcement, and threaten the safety of minorities whether young like 18-year-old Michael Brown, or mature like 29-year-old Eric Garner.
John Jay College for Criminal Justice is a school with a racially diverse student and faculty population. However, does being in a school focusing on criminal justice ensure that students won’t be subjected to racial profiling by law enforcement? Paul Mitchell is a black male student here at John Jay who served as a marine and now studies criminal justice. “There were three instances in my life where I was stopped by police,” he said, explaining his encounters with law enforcement officials.
“One time I was stopped randomly while walking to school and I was searched and patted down for weapons. Another time I was stopped at a police check point while driving. The other cars had speedy check outs, however I was pulled over for a longer period of time and my car was searched,” Mitchell explains. Despite being a marine, and criminal justice student, Mitchell has been subject to racial profiling and humiliating searches by police officials.
Another student by the name of Shade James, a black female attending John Jay College, has too been stopped by law enforcement. “I was on my way home one day with a friend and we were stopped and questioned by police when trying to take the train,” she says.
Corey Adams, a black male looking to transfer to John Jay College, has been stopped and searched by a police officer when on his way to work. “My father is in law enforcement and I am interested in studying this as well. It’s shocking that in this day and age the black community is still targeted by police,” he said.
With constant protests, conflict, and laws enforced to treat this issue it is unsettling for many, especially those of the black community, to know these racial problems with police still exist. “The Brown or Garner incidents really do raise a red flag. These men were unarmed and still shared the same fate,” says Adams.
After the death of Michael Brown there was a demand for the Vehicle Stop Report in Ferguson, Missouri. According to the website of the Missouri Attorney General, Chris Koster’s website , this report measures the likelihood of drivers of a certain race being stopped based on their proportion of Missouri’s population at age 16 and over. Huffington Post states that African American drivers are subject to more stop and searches than whites. “African-American drivers in [Ferguson] represented 86 percent of all traffic stops despite making up only 67 percent of the city’s population; white drivers, by contrast, accounted for only about 13 percent of the traffic stops in Ferguson despite making up 29 percent of its population.”
“Before I was stopped by police, I used to think the only blacks that would get stopped were those wearing hoodies and sagging their pants,” says Adams. “But it is not the case since I always dress to impress. Whether I’m going to work, school or hanging out I also take great pride in displaying myself in a professional manner,” he said.
With such a huge variety of races at John Jay, most of it consisting of minorities considering a future in law enforcement; it is important to address and bring this issue of racial profiling to light.
Three black students, two attending John Jay and one transferring to John Jay, have been subjected to random stops and search by law enforcement. These students share an optimistic outlook, however that they can help and change the future of racial profiling.