What is racial profiling?
The most common example of police racial profiling is
"DWB", otherwise known as "driving while black". This refers to the
practice of police targeting African Americans for traffic stops because
they believe that African Americans are more likely to be engaged in
While racial profiling is
illegal, a 1996 Supreme Court decision allows police to stop motorists and
search their vehicles if they believe trafficking illegal drugs or weapons.
More traffic stops leads to more arrests, which further skews the racial
profiling statistics against African Americans. Studies have
shown that African Americans are far more likely to be stopped and searched.
Are African Americans really committing more crimes or are they just caught
more often because the police target them? This is a vicious cycle
that even the strictest law enforcement advocates would admit is patently
What can you do if you are stopped? Civil rights
attorneys advise the following:
Know your rights: you are not required to give permission to police officer to
search your car. You can deny the request - but do so politely.
Don't argue: the police may try to intimidate you. Do not be confrontational
and provoke an argument.
Get the names of the officers: be sure to get their badge numbers, squad car
number, license plate number, and make a note of the location and time of day.
File a complaint if you feel you have been mis-treated: contact the ACLU or other
civil rights organizations for legal advice.