Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The McKinney Pool Incident: Profiling

With the recent events in McKinney, Texas of police brutality at a pool party, it's time we as a nation consider the larger issue.  The issue is not that of racism as popular media would have everyone believe - although, admittedly that may play a role, but the issue on a larger scale is that of profiling.  Now, before you jump on me saying that the McKinney Pool Party was racial at the core, read the rest of this article.  Profiling comes in many forms and racism is just one small, ugly part of it.

Profiling at it's basic core means to analyze something, or someone's capabilities.  In the case of police profiling it's to determine, through analysis, if that someone poses a threat to society, himself or herself, or to the officer as defined within the law.  Profiling can be based on the type of car driven, the clothing, skin color, tattoos, piercings, and even status in life.  Keep in mind, of the many types of potential profiling that can occur, only one of them has to do with race and that is skin color.

To prove a point, I'm going to point out some key examples where I have been a victim of police profiling or have witnessed it.  Despite my various heritage from Cherokee and other nationalities, the fact is most people seeing me would consider me to be Caucasian.  So keep in mind that I'm for all intense purposes a Caucasian in each of these events.

Russellville, Arkansas - Several years ago I went with a group of friends to the basketball courts near the Arkansas River late at night.  When the night was over, six of us got into a Ford LTD (big older car even for this time) and started back to our school (Arkansas Tech University).  Another friend was in his own car.  Going down Highway 7 we played around as young people sometimes do as if we were racing - keep in mind, our friend was driving a Volkswagen Rabbit that in our college days likely ran on two cylinders at best.  While we were in the wrong, we were not exactly blowing the speed limits away or shooting up the town.  When blue lights came on, we immediately pulled to the side of the road where we came face-to-face with one of Russellville's Caucasian Police officers.  After a brief exchange between our driver and the officer, our driver was asked for his registration papers.  He responded, "Yes sir, they are in the glove compartment.  Can I get them."  The officer who had been very rude up to this point, just about yelling at the driver, responded, "That had better be the only thing you get out of there!"  He then placed his hand on his gun and unholstered it.  Naturally somewhat nervous my friend reached to the glove box and handed the papers to the officer.  I'm sure he was glad that nothing else fell out to distract or perhaps alarm the officer.   Despite filing a compliant later, nothing was done to our knowledge with the officer.  He had apparently used profiling to see a car with six people, racing with another car, pulled over the car, saw young people in the car late at night and decided based on profiling that we were a potential threat to someone.  In the car was myself, three girls from our school, a former United States Marine, and the driver- an appointed Constable for his hometown area, an honor student, and a member of the ROTC program (consequently today he is a Lt. Colonel in the United States Army).  Everyone in the car would be considered Caucasian and we had a Caucasian officer.  We were obviously profiled as being "bad news" or "trouble".

Texarkana, Arkansas - years later I would be driving with my children when a light would turn yellow as I went through it.  I felt strongly that the light was yellow, but apparently the police officer who pulled me over did not.  He indicated to me that I had driven through a red light.  When I responded that I thought it was yellow, he stated, "Now we can do this the easy way.  My way.  Or we can do this the hard way.  Was the light red?"  Naturally, with my children in the car, my mind flashed back to another officer who had unholstered his gun just because we wanted to get what he asked us to give to him.   I decided we would do it the easy way.  I responded, "Well, I must have been mistaken.  It must have been red."  I did not get a ticket, only a warning, but felt very threatened.  In this case apparently the officer, using a profiling method, decided that I was going to be trouble based on the fact that I did not agree with his assessment and that he had to "put me in my place."

A couple of years ago I bought a black Volvo.  I travel a lot down Highway 59 in Texas and it's known for having drug runners.  For several months I drove the car with no problems.  After I got the windows tinted dark, I was pulled over on average three to four times between Houston and Texarkana each trip I took.   I was given excuses like, "You appeared to pass the truck very close.  Have you been drinking?" and "I noticed your tire is low.  You can come back here and look at it."  Finally, after about the eight time of being stopped I had the following conversation with a nice county officers:  I said, "Wow, I used to never get pulled over for anything.  After I got these windows tinted I seem to get pulled over all the time."  His response was, "I bet you do."  Again, I had done nothing wrong other than make my car appear to be what they assumed a drug dealer might drive-needless to say I'm a little hesitant still to get the windows on my new Toyota Camry tinted.

While the examples above involve me, I have also seen people with tattoos being profiled and singled out.  I have friends who ride motorcycles who have been pulled over for no apparent reason.  I know young people wearing their pants low, both Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American, who have been stopped and questioned.  I've seen homeless people walking down the street being questioned by police simply because of the way they look or the time they are out at night.

Based on everything I have read regarding the McKinney Pool Party-especially the last sentence of this article where a young Caucasian kid sees his African-American friends being singled out and nothing is said to him at this pool party (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/us/mckinney-tex-pool-party-dispute-leads-to-police-officer-suspension.html) profiling is occurring based on skin color in this situation.  However, we do not need to think this is an exclusive area for profiling.   Profiling is still based on many factors - cars, clothing, status in life, tattoos, mental abilities, and yes also skin color as pointed out.

When any officer takes action against someone simply based on any form of profiling we should all be alarmed.  When I watched the video from McKinney, Texas I saw something very disturbing.  I saw a young girl sitting on the ground asking the officer for her mother before being flung around and forced face down.  She had no weapon, she was not fighting back, and in fact she seemed afraid.  Witness statements seem to confirm that profiling in this case was based on race (remember, the Caucasian kid was overlooked).  Even if this young lady had a bad attitude before, she certainly did not have that attitude before and as she was forced to the ground.

Many people will feel like the events at McKinney do not concern them.  They will draw this conclusion because they are Caucasian, Hispanic, Japanese, Chinese, American Indian, or some other nationality.  They will feel like the assemblies and protest do not concern them.  I have never been profiled, to my knowledge, for my race.  I have, as exampled above, been profiled for other issues.  If we stand by allow The McKinney Pool Party to go by without our support and protest regardless of race, then how long before we are profiled for a Tattoo, a car, clothing, or even our own race?  If we allow this to go unanswered, the the foundation of the Bill of Rights which was completely thrown out by this officer regarding this young lady for the First (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances)-she was unable to speak in her request for her mother and forced to the ground for doing sofourth (The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized)-she was unable to be secure at a party where she was invited and in fact those hired and paid to ensure her security violated that securityand Eight (Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.)-this officer threw her to the ground face first when there was no resistance and this qualifies as punishment inflicted parts will soon come back to haunt everyone through profiling.  No, we cannot allow this to go unanswered and regardless of your heritage you must reach across and support those affected.  If you do not, then someday it will come to your door as you are profiled for some reason and your rights are also thrown out by one individual or perhaps a group of individuals.

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