Sunday, January 11, 2009

Racial Tension? In Bellaire? You don't say.

Who in the world would have though there would be an issue with racial profiling in Bellaire? Well, besides me in my original post on this subject, these people, for starters. This article details some very specific cases where the Bellaire PD would just drive up to a person and ask them why they were there, for no apparent reason. And that's what bothers me the most--that a person can be walking down the street and a cop asks him why he's there. Who cares? It's a public street. Or how one can drive up to someone and assume he's not the owner of a house in their fair city. Or have a continuing habit of reporting "suspicious cars with stolen plates."

I'm not too impressed with the "stolen meat" couple's story, however, assuming the store owner really did point them out. And I agree that Bellaire's proximity to 610 and other business traffic might throw the demographics of their stops off and that they may actually be in compliance with statutes intended to prevent racial profiling. But, that in no way excuses their continuous pattern of profiling, as evidenced by those in the article--some of whom have multiple incidents to report.

And imagine how many people don't speak up.

I think it would be interesting to require cities with an apparent problem such as Bellaire (as evidenced by racial demographics of their traffic stops differing greatly from their city's demographics) to record not only the race of the people they pull over, but the address as well. That way they could confirm that the proximity to Houston indeed causes their higher incidences of pulling over people of color, because otherwise their claim of proximity is merely anecdotal. They should also be required to record all contacts, because pulling over and asking a guy if the owner of the house on which he's installing Christmas lights is not a traffic stop requiring that the police report it for profiling purposes. Nor is the one where the family was walking down the street.

But they are almost certainly incidents of racial profiling.

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