Mack students react to racial profiling data in Oakland

racial profiling

by Luckie Lovette

McClymonds students were angered but not surprised to learn that nearly 60 percent of police stops in Oakland during 2013 were directed at African Americans.

“I feel that we shouldn’t be targeted just because the police believe that African Americans contribute to a high rate of crime, and police shouldn’t suspect us of a crime just because of our skin color,” said Selena Williams, a senior.

According to the data released by the Oakland police, Blacks are stopped and searched by Oakland police at a rate of 62 percent while they make up just 28 percent of the city’s population. The report also shows that although Blacks were more likely to be stopped, they were no more likely than any other racial group to be found with illegal drugs or weapons.

The data also show that Oakland police are more likely to arrest Blacks on suspicion of felony charges during a stop.

“To be honest, it’s pretty sad,” said Kendall Page, a senior. “They make fun of us; basically everyone is laughing at us because of the racial profiling problem.”

The report, which presents stop-and-search figures from last April through December, was ordered as part of the negotiated settlement of a civil rights lawsuit over a decade ago, which stemmed from the Riders scandal that alleged police brutality and other forms of misconduct.

“I feel it’s really racist that they are targeting black people,” said Taivion Foster, a sophomore.

Oakland Interim Police Chief Sean Went said in a letter that the figures in the report are reflective of “the situation in many U.S. cities and speaks to the need for systemic changes throughout our communities.”

“We are committed to working toward an Oakland that ensures equal opportunities, protections and successes for all,” he wrote.

John Burris, one of the civil rights attorneys who worked on the Riders case, in which  four Oakland police officers were randomly beating and detaining  Blacks in Oakland in early 2000, told reporters yesterday that he was not surprised by the findings.

“It’s disappointing, but we’ve always suspected this to be true,” he said.

“I’m hopeful the data will get analyzed in such a way that we can find out whether there’s implicit bias in law enforcement,” Burris said.

The report said that Hispanics were stopped and searched by Oakland police at a rate of 17 percent, whites at 12 percent, Asians at 6 percent.

Former McClymonds student Frenswa Raynor, 16 and African American,  was shot in the face last year by a veteran police officer  in downtown Oakland because he was thought to have been armed, but was later found out to be unarmed and innocent. Burris represented him.

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