Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Police Bias in LA

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.

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.

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. Even though LA’s 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.

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), said,  “For anybody who lives in communities like mine, the data is not a surprise. It’s a validation of what we already know.”   She added: “The stops aren’t based on more criminality among black and brown folks … There is evidence of racism within LAPD, and these stops absolutely have to end.”

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.

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

Last week, however, LAPD faced widespread backlash after recruitment ads for new officers appeared on Breitbart, a far-right website.

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