Data shows black drivers stopped at four times rate of white people: These stops lead to death, activist says

Los Angeles police officers stop and search black and Latino drivers at significantly higher rates than white people, even though white residents are more likely to be carrying drugs and weapons, a new report shows.

Traffic stop data from a recent 10-month period across LA revealed that black drivers and passengers were four times more likely to be searched by police than white people, and that Latinos were three times as likely to face searches, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.

In stops across the city, 24% of black drivers and passengers were searched, compared with 16% of Latinos and 5% of white people. White drivers were found with drugs or other contraband 20% of the time, a higher rate than other groups; the contraband rate was 17% for black people and 16% for Latinos.

The analysis of Los Angeles police department (LAPD) data comes the same week that an activist coalition is launching a campaign demanding an end to these kinds of stops and reparations for people who have been wrongly searched and racially profiled.

These stops lead to the death of our people, said Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, which is part of the coalition launching Wednesday, called Promoting Unity Safety and Health in Los Angeles (Push LA). For anybody who lives in communities like mine, the data is not a surprise. Its a validation of what we already know.

The analysis also contradicts claims that disproportionate stops occur because of higher crime rates among certain communities, she added: The stops arent based on more criminality among black and brown folks There is evidence of racism within LAPD, and these stops absolutely have to end.

LAPD was forced to release the data under a new California law requiring departments to disclose traffic stop statistics. The LA Times analyzed records of more than 385,000 drivers and passengers pulled over from July 2018 through April 2019.

The severe racial disparities started with the stops: even though LAs population is 9% black, roughly 27% of people pulled over were black. White people make up 28% of the city, but roughly 18% of stops. Latinos were 47% of stops, which roughly matches their population size. Asians, who make up 11% of the city, represented 4% of stops.

For black and Latino drivers, minor equipment violations, such as a broken taillight, made up 20% of the stops compared with only 11% of stops for white people. These types of stops allow police to harass and search people of color without justification, activists said.

Its fishing. Its casting a broad net, said Alberto Retana, president of Community Coalition, a south LA not-for-profit group spearheading the new Push LA campaign. Its criminalizing poor folks that arent a threat to the community. What we have here is a policy of systematically targeting [the black] population. That is institutional bias.

Bryant
Bryant Mangum with his family. Photograph: Courtesy Bryant Mangum

Bryant Mangum, a 37-year-old warehouse foreman who lives in south LA, told the Guardian he is regularly pulled over in his neighborhood when he drives his BMW.

Were tired of being mistreated and pre-judged and racially profiled, said Mangum, who said he rarely drives the BMW anymore, especially at night, because of the likelihood of a stop. My wife fears anytime I drive it, not because of anyone robbing me, but she fears the cops.

When he drove his children to school last week, an LAPD car followed him for roughly a mile, he said: My heart was beating, and its a couple minutes of worry and anxiety.

Several years ago, he said, he was stopped by police for double parking outside the home he owns. In places like west LA or Santa Monica, he said, he was much safer and less targeted than his Green Meadows neighborhood, adding that it felt like police were trying to push people out by harassing them.

I know this community well, its a community I love, and I dont want to leave, said Mangum, who is advocating for policy changes with the new coalition. The numbers are staggering and should be a wake-up call to everybody.

Push LAs campaign is calling on LAPD to compensate people who have been searched recently and had nothing on them, said Retana: A small step the city can take is to pay back people for the undo harm created by these stops.

In a statement to the Guardian, Michel Moore, LAPDs chief, defended the agencys record, saying, While the numbers presented reflect racial disparities when compared to the proportions of residential population, they do not define or describe the circumstances of each stop or search [and] neither prove nor disprove racial profiling or other improper action.

He added that LAPD has no tolerance for any officer that would use race as a basis for a stop or search.

Abdullah, however, noted that LAPDs own data shows that hundreds of citizens have filed complaints of biased policing in recent years, but that the department has declined to sustain any of those allegations.

Mayor Eric Garcetti called the report important and timely in a statement, adding that an LAPD inspector general was studying the subject of vehicle stops. He noted that the department had implemented body cameras, trained officers in implicit bias, expanded community partnerships and launched recruitment campaigns to embrace and expand diversity.

Last week, however, LAPD faced widespread backlash after recruitment ads for new officers appeared on Breitbart, a far-right website. The department said it was a mistake and suspended its Google ads as a result.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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