Texas: Define Racial Profiling

Texas: Define Racial Profiling

Hearing of racial profiling in the state of Texas is no surprise to anyone – not even to racists. The question that racists want answered, however, is what exactly is racial profiling. Police officers stopping a minority to question them and run their name to check for warrants is viewed as just a safety precaution by many. Though to the minority hearing their name ran over the radio for doing absolutely nothing other than walking is a frightening experience. They are thinking as they hand over their identification that there is a probability they might not see the light of day again. Safety precaution for who exactly?

An incident captured on police dash cam this week between a Black University of Texas professor.

Dorothy Bland and two Caucasian police officers patrolling her affluent neighborhood while she was power walking, wearing workout attire has raised questions as to what was the underlying motivation to the stop. Focused and lifting her arms up and down to increase her cardio workout while wearing a hood over her head because it looked like it might rain any minute, Bland did not realize the police had been following her for 12 seconds. The police got out of their patrol car and Bland finally turned around. The video captured the two officers walking towards Bland and she cooperated by meeting them part of the way. The officer explained she needed to walk on the other side of the road for safety reasons so she would not get hit by car from behind. I thought to myself that was nice of the officers to look out for her. I thought she would continue on her way, but the police were not done with Bland just yet.

The officer asked her for her identification. Bland, like many, left the house to go jogging without her driver’s license. She explained she did not have it on her, but she told them where she lived and that her neighbors could vouch for her. The safety precaution stop did not end there. She was asked for her name and date of birth. Bland cooperated and heard her name being ran over the radio. She took out her cell phone to photograph the two officers and their squad car. Bland explained she could not believe she was being stopped for working out in her own neighborhood.

The offer responded it was a safety precaution. When the officers learned Bland did not have any warrants, she was allowed to continue on her way. She later posted the incident in the newspaper, stating it was racial profiling. Bland received much backlash. The police released the video for the public to witness that it was a simple safety precaution and she was not racially profiled. A petition followed with over 3,000 signatures in support of Bland being terminated from her job due to the incident.

Those 3,000 supporters who agreed the stop was not racial profiling have never had the terrifying experience happen to them. A couple of years ago I called the police one early morning when I discovered four trespassers in their 20s in my building sleeping in our sauna. I had caught two of them the week before on our property and I had warned them not to come back. This time they brought friends. We had several car thefts from our garage the week before and a young woman attacked on our roof deck. I waited outside for the police to arrive to escort them to the workout room where the four strangers were sound asleep. The police opened the sauna door and woke the trespassers up.

They filed out of the sauna one by one. The officer asked each of them for their identification. I was shocked when I was asked for mine as well. I asked why did they need to run my name. They put me against the wall with the trespassers. Not many minorities lived in my building, so I guess they did not believe me. My address was on my license. I explained again I was the one who called them. They did not seem to care.

They ran my name and, of course, no warrants were out for my arrest. I was insulted and scared still.

I called to file a complaint to the police station and they were very apologetic stating that particular officer was new and she should not have run my name. I let it go, but I completely understand how Bland felt. Safety precaution or racial profiling? Honestly, when you hear your name over a squad car radio when you know you have done absolutely nothing wrong, but be Black in your own neighborhood that is predominantly Caucasian…is it so hard to believe that it was racial profiling?

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