Racial Profiling in Seattle

Complaints of racial profiling are multiplying in Seattle, according to the president of the Seattle-King County branch of the NAACP.

"This is a pervasive problem," [James Bible] said, adding that the message to youth has become "you're all perceived as gang members until you prove differently."

A news conference yesterday cited instances of unequal and disrespectful law enforcement targeting black youth. One example:

[Marcus] Whitehurst, who is black, was pushed up against the patrol car, told he was nothing but "garbage" and advised that he was "not welcome in this neighborhood." His white friends were allowed to stand there, untouched.

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    Seattle has a very diverse population (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by YesVirginiaThereIsASanta on Tue Sep 30, 2008 at 10:42:31 PM EST
    People of every race and nationality have found a home there. I would have liked to have seen some data on how many more complaints are being filed against the police by the blacks today vs. 5-10 years ago, and how many are filed against the police by other nationalities and races.

    History lingers on ... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by AdamA on Tue Sep 30, 2008 at 11:48:05 PM EST
    Stories like this don't surprise me.  The Seattle area has a history rife with segregation.  More subtle than the South, nonetheless destructive.  Neighborhoods and communities north of the Ship Canal Bridge were widely known as Sundown Towns.  Segregation was designed into community covenants.  

    You can read examples of many (if not all) of the various covenants via the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project at:  http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/ created by a professor at UW.

    One solution to gangs and gang violence is early childhood and family education, but we'd rather pay for cops and prisons ... more manly.  Besides it would take years and investment .. and we're all about quick fixes and bailouts.

    One thing about living here in the south (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by txpolitico67 on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 12:25:12 AM EST
    I know where I stand and how people feel.  Ain't no bones about it.  No nuance or political correctness.  It is what it is.  I was pulled over once late at night coming home from work and I was doing nothing wrong.

    My sister, who was a cop at the time told me quite bluntly:  "you are a hispanic male that was travelling through an upper-middle class white neighborhood in a vehicle that has a high rate of theft."  "That's why you were pulled over, and nothing else."

    I didn't get a ticket or cited for anything. I was just pulled over.  Anyone who doesn't think that racial profiling isn't part of police work, be it in Seattle, Ann Arbor or Hazzard County, is sadly mistaken.

    ya (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by connecticut yankee on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 08:55:40 AM EST
    Years ago as a student I drove across Texas on summer break and was pulled over one night by a state cop while looking for a gas station.  I'm white with a beard and had that shifty student look I suppose.  He make me take everything out of the car, open up my suitcases, etc.  He was checking inside my spare socks,  looking inside of spare lug nuts, etc.

    When he finally said I could go I had stuff spread all over the road and his attitude seemed to be, "I know you are a crook, I just cant figure out how".

    No ticket, no warning, no reason offered, he just wanted to search.


    Once upon a time (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Steve M on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 12:32:03 AM EST
    I used to think that integrating the police force would do a lot to cut down on racial profiling.  Turns out most minority cops are perfectly eager to profile members of their own race.

    I live in Seattle (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by shoephone on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 01:22:10 AM EST
    Adam A -

    Do you live in Seattle?

    I have been living here for 24 years and yes,  racial profiling occurs here. Just like in every other city in America. Is it worse here? Doubt it. Seattle of 2008 is not the same city you referenced in your comment. But one thing that has changed a lot is that gang violence has been on a steep increase all over the city in the last 3-4 years. There are shootings and stabbings nearly every day, and many of them are gang-related. Lots of kids (and adults) in both Rainier Valley and West Seattle are the victims. Previously safe neighborhoods -- like mine in the supposedly dreadful, racist north end of your post -- are now being targeted by gangs regularly. Last month everyone within a six block radius of my house was awoken by what sounded like repetitive gunfire. And the next morning we discovered that seven houses on my block had been hit with graffiti.

    I live across the street from a park that has been a haven for drug dealing and graffiti tagging for the past four years. Please don't try and tell me we have enough cops. We don't. I have had it with political correctness and tender sensibilites. We need more cops in this city. Property crimes and violent crimes are on the rise, and what is the mayor's response? To waste precious resources having cops bust up strip clubs.

    If I had a dime for everytime someone who doesn't live here felt qualified to tell me what's happening in my city, I'd be a millionaire.

    you go (none / 0) (#6)
    by txpolitico67 on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 01:55:36 AM EST
    shoephone!  sounds like ur neighborhood is under siege.  craziness!

    and as for your stripclub remark, i completely agree.  this "puritanism" in america is a joke.  


    well, a lot of what's going on (none / 0) (#7)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 02:48:17 AM EST
    has to do with the fact that most black youths don't have a lot to look forward to and don't have a great support group to aid in the fact that they feel like outsiders in their own society, other than other black male youths...

    let's see...she I get a crappy job without benefits where my employer will use me like an endentured servant and I'll make 7-8/hr or should I work my own hours and be my own boss selling drugs or some other sort of 'crime'...

    seems like a pretty easy decision to me, especially when living in a society where you don't have the same chances of becoming an engineer, architect, writer, dentist, doctor, stockbroker as your white counterpart..

    then again, maybe black people are just criminals...


    Isn't it a myth (none / 0) (#8)
    by Manuel on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 03:44:35 AM EST
    that per hour drug dealing pay is good?  Plus the risk of injury or jail is significant.  To the extent that economic incentive is driving gang activity it is lack of jobs and skills that are the driving factors.

    Why (none / 0) (#12)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 07:30:48 AM EST
    you don't have the same chances of becoming an engineer, architect, writer, dentist, doctor, stockbroker as your white counterpart..
     Please explain..

    Can;t study in school the same way as whites?  Can't go the the library?  Can't get on the internet?  Is there any personal choice you can make to make your dream of becoming a engineer, architect, writer, dentist, doctor, stockbroker happen?


    it's more of an issue of economics than race (none / 0) (#17)
    by of1000Kings on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 12:31:42 AM EST
    and it's a fact that a young AA is more likely to be born into poverty than a young white person...I don't see how you could argue that...

    the inner city schools are horrible horrible places where not much learning takes place considering the lack of good teachers, the lack of funding and the lack of the same resources as most white schools...

    my guess is that on the whole young AA's don't have the same access to computers and the internet as white persons...but hey, maybe I'm wrong...they probably also don't have the same access to personal transportation as white youths, or the same role models or support group, or the same food to eat at the dinner table to help their brains grow...

    etc, etc...

    a young black person can become anything he/she wants, he/she (and anyone that is born into poverty, not just AA's) just has to work 20x harder than a white person born into middle class, or 1000000x harder than a white person born into upper class...


    The offer still stands.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 09:03:09 AM EST
    to take some of the cops out of my 'hood shoephone:)

    Do you think it might be more effective to legalize drugs and set-up a legal graffitti mural in a public space, as opposed to hiring more cops to bust heads and bust chops?


    Where (none / 0) (#15)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 03:58:50 PM EST
    do you get the money for a legal graffiti location?  From where in a budget?  So if you set it up and someone does graffiti somewhere else, now what?

    those lovely faith-based initiatives (none / 0) (#18)
    by of1000Kings on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 12:33:39 AM EST
    that are so great these days...lol....

    In New York.... (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 09:17:18 AM EST
    many public parks have handball courts, aka big concrete walls.  I'd let the artists go nuts on those at no cost to anybody.

    We have many beautiful graffiti murals that add to the landscape, not detract.


    Seattle (none / 0) (#16)
    by AdamA on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 10:45:46 PM EST
    Yes, I live in the Seattle area.  So because racial profiling occurs elsewhere, it's ok here?  Seattle's history shaped Seattle today.  The steep increase in gang violence is not entirely due to a lack of cops.  The problem is more multidimensional.  Sure, cops help, but we might want to re-think other sources of the problem.

    racial profiling (none / 0) (#11)
    by Mikeb302000 on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 06:46:36 AM EST
    Racial profiling goes on everywhere, but so does abuse of power, which is what I think accounts for much of the police misconduct.