Driving While Brown

My office manager’s husband was stopped again yesterday for no reason — second time this week. It usually only happens once a month. The police searched the entire vehicle and of course found nothing, because he’s a successful businessman with no criminal record.

Then again, he is a dark-skinned Latino.Police Car Lights

Whenever he gets stopped, he remains polite but firm and does not give the police any reason to arrest him.  He allows them to search the vehicle because he knows if he says no, they will find some reason to hold him, go and get a warrant, and do it anyway.  After an hour or so, they have to give up and let him go.

He is a building owner and manager in New York city, so he often travels in work clothes so he can make repairs to his buildings.  He may not dress in a suit and tie every day, and that is part of the problem.  Fortunately, he does not wear a hoodie.

When police want to pull over a car, they must have a “reasonable suspicion” that a violation of the traffic code is taking place.  That’s so easy to find, though.  You swerved a bit, you forgot to turn your signal on when you changed lanes (even if no one was behind you), and in this case, his license plate was obscured by snow.

Once you’re stopped, they can hold you if you “fit a profile” or if they “smell marijuana” (which they do a lot of).  I had a case a while ago where my client’s car was pulled over for being suspicious because “there were many people in the car, it was from New Jersey, and it was driving on a road known to be used by drug traffickers.” Mainly, route 80, the biggest highway coming from New York city, which everyone takes. A car full of people from New Jersey in a tourist area like the Poconos, just over the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border? Clearly suspicious.

Oh, did I mention all the people in the vehicle were black?

This particular person, however, gets stopped along the 100-mile corridor between New York city and his home here, so it’s not just one police department doing this.  That’s even worse, though, isn’t it?  It says this is systemic.

And it’s not always racism as much as it racial profiling, if you see the distinction. I’ve had many cases where black cops pull over black drivers for stupid reasons, too.

Some people scoff at this, and say everyone is overreacting.  These people are always white.

2 thoughts on “Driving While Brown

  1. Pingback: It Happens All the Time |

  2. Pingback: Driving While Black

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