Racial profiling is an increasingly common practice that does not always receive the proper attention or explanation it rightly deserves. It is important for people who are likely targets of racial profiling to understand exactly what the practice consists of, as well as to be informed about their rights under the law.
The following information can help you better understand what racial profiling means, and this can, in turn, help you to determine whether you have been a target of this practice.
Defining racial profiling
The American Civil Liberties Union defines racial profiling as a "discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials." These officials may target individuals based on individual factors that can include not only race or ethnicity, but also religion. It can happen that a law enforcement officer stops an individual based solely on particular characteristics he or she sees as indicative of the type of person who may likely commit a crime.
Given that this is a discriminatory practice, individuals who have experiences they believe classify as cases of racial profiling may be able to seek compensation under the law. In New York City, for example, the police department has a departmental policy that prohibits racial profiling and "bias-based policing." However, if an officer violates this policy, you may have recourse. It can be helpful to consult with an attorney to better understand your particular rights and situation.
Some common examples
One of the most common examples of racial profiling in New York is the disproportionate number of African Americans law enforcement officers target for stops when compared to Caucasian. African Americans are also frisked more frequently than Caucasians. These are classic examples of racial profiling because the stopping and frisking take place based solely on the fact the person stopped or frisked is of a particular race. As a result of the fact that officers stop them more frequently, African Americans are at a higher risk for arrest. This, despite the fact that the initial stop was not based on suspicion of actual criminal activity, but rather the color of their skin.
Racial profiling is a serious problem. In certain circumstances, you may have a legal case to bring to court with regards to your unfair encounter with police. The most effective way to understand the legal ramifications of your particular case is by consulting with an attorney who has experience with cases of racial profiling in New York City.