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Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

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(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Racial Profiling...Part 2

Biohazard asked some interesting questions on my racial profiling rant from yesterday in the comments section of the blog, and I'd like to post my answers here.

biohazard said...
Hmm...let me ask you these questions:1. Have there been crimes committed in the park after 10P? Violence? Prostitution? Drug dealing?2. If so, what do you think the majority race is that commits these crime at this park at this time?3. Has crime dropped since the park has been closed down at night?4. Do you seriously believe that the black sheriff is actively trying to keep minorities out of this park?What I am getting at is I think you are probably confusing cause and effect. It is a common thing for liberals. Officers stop people committing criminal acts. Majority of people committing crimes in this area are minority. Lo and behold, that means the police are stopping a lot of minorities. Should the police just turn their backs and ignore citizen
complaints and crime because the criminals in the majority of these cases just
happen to be black?I think I know what your answer will be.
Sun Jun 18, 07:41:14 PM CDT


1. All day long there are crimes committed on the lakefront. Before 5pm the crimes are underage drinking, smoking dope (and a myriad of other things), prostitution, fighting, you name it, it's mainly a white crowd during the day, doing this stuff, so nobody sees it or cares. Just like no one cared about the increase in the availability of herion in Milwaukee until kids started dropping like flies in the hallways of Nicolet. Those things are NOT race based crimes.

White people commit at least as much crime as black people, it's just that no one watches white people at the levels that they watch minorties.

2. Answered above.

3. Sure crime has dropped, NO ONE is down there now though so who cares? Got a problem with crime there?? Then deal with the criminals, but if you kick out everyone, then who are you keeping the lakefront safe for?

4. Not only do I think it. I'm absolutely positive of it. David Clarke has been no friend of the black community in Milwaukee County. In fact, his words and actions show very clearly over the last few years, that he has a certain spite for the black population and this is well known throughout the black community in Milwaukee. His larest funders are the Charlie Sykes crowd and they love having a black face to do their dirty work. It makes people like you feel all cozy about the whole thing.

You know... The whole idea that black people are united unanimously in one direction or another on issues, methods and practices is racist in itself! The black community is as diverse as any other community and until you can get over that barrier, you are yourself racial profiling...

My answer is NOT to have the police turn their backs on legitimate criminals. Clearly though there is a targeted effort to intimidate minorities on the lakefront. I rarely see people actually in custody! They are harrassing people who are doing nothing to break the law except being black in the wrong neighborhood. I'd like to challenge to you ride in a car with a black friend on a nice sunny day with the windows down on the lakefront, in Shorewood, WFB, Fox Point, or Bayside. I would put money on it (and I don't gamble) that you will be pulled over. Make the car either an old make or something really new and expensive and it's nearly guaranteed you will be pulled over.

Driving while black is NOT a crime. In fact racial profiling IS a crime in itself. By the way, the MAJORITY of people on the lakefront at the time were WHITE.

My best story on racial profiling is this:
My mom worked at Kohl's Food Store in Shorewood for 12 years. For the first 7 or so, the theft was out of control and the method for controlling it was sending a stock boy to follow EVERY black person (especially the young ones) who came in the store. Every once in a while they'd catch someone stealing, but not very often and not a lot of black people shopped at the store. This outraged my mom, but no one would listen to her when she would tell them she saw an old white women steal something. This literally went on for years until the store's theft was up to $80,000 per MONTH. The management decided it was time to act. They hired a full time security force, put in cameras and changed procedures throughout the store. They also made sure no press releases were sent out, so the local neighborhood was unaware of the changes. Lo and behold the security guards started catching the theives...100 or more per week for the first few weeks and here is how their racial makeup broke down.
African American 10% Other minority 15% White 75%
Age over 50 75%
Women 65%
So if you were trying to racially profile the theft problem and you randomly decide to target young black males, you have harrassed them, but you have not solved your problem because the thieves were actually the little old white women you thought were so cute that you helped do the shielding inadvertantly for them while they were stealing you blind.

I'm saying the lakefront is the same thing. If there is illegal activity going on, deal with that specifically when you see it. Just to randomly stop people because of their race, clothing and/or car means that you have often times wasted your time and theirs and often you've missed the fact that the real drug dealer is the guy in WFB with the huge house on Lake Drive...

Another blogger writes on my post here. 80 tickets were handed out accoring to the JS article, 24 for driving with a suspended or revoked license (tickets you can't afford to pay will get you on that list). How did they find out their licenses weren't valid unless they pulled them over while racially profiling them and then did a license check???

15 comments:

Captain Ron said...

You should have posted the questions as well. Thanks.

biohazard said...

Thanks for your reply. One thing I keep seeing in your post is that you think the police are stopping black people for "no reason". I have to shake my head at this because I run into these attitudes all the time. You really have no idea what they are being stopped for. You simply assume that the police are racist and the stops are for DWB.

Since you told me a story, let me tell you one as well. I responded to a call of a fight in the parking lot of a local mall. Security told me that two cars with black males in rival gangs had gotten into a fight. Both sides had been throwing gang signs at each other and acting as if they had a gun. Security arrived on scene and they fled with promises to come back and take care of business.

While standing there, one of the cars drives past. Security points it out. I got behind it and pulled it over. Now, since I know the fight was gang related and that there had been threats about weapons, I got the occupants out one at a time at gun point.

While I am frisking one oc the occupatants, I was approached by some woman who demanded to know why I pulled my gun and stopped those poor boys "for no reason." She went into a tirade about the police and racist acts. All the while, I am trying to deal with several potentially armed gang members.

I have several other stories where civic minded people have jumped on me for stopping people "for no reason" when I really had all the reason in the world.

Georgia said...

In a far and distant time - I lived in Fox Point in a house on a well travelled street. My children and I resided there for five years - IN THOSE FIVE YEARS I witnessed at least 75 cars being pulled over in front of my home - or across the street from the front of my home.

Not one of those 'traffic' stops - not a single time - was there a non-african/american driver. Not every time, but often - I'd go outside to see exactly what was going on. When I showed up - two things happened. First: police would ask me if there was a problem. (I always replied - "No, I just wanted to see why this car was stopped.") Second: police would say 'Okay - just a warning this time - watch yourself in the future' and wave the offending car off.

Harassment?

I did see TWO tickets issued. One was a foolish driver who thought driving through Fox Point at dusk with a broken taillight would go unnoticed. (Oh dear - this was an older balck woman who did housework for one of the exec's at Miller.) The other ticket was for 'NOISE POLUTION'.

It seems to me that Fox Point police might just be following the accepted MPD practices.....

The person in the blog response above seems to be a police officer. I believe that if HE had just told the yappy person that HE was ANSWERING A CALL and that she was impeeding his investigation - she probably would have let him do his job.

Also - I Wonder if he found any 'weapons'.

When one of my kids worked for a sandwich shop in Fox Point - all the working kids were told to call the cops at any sign of danger in the shop - and to tell the cops that 'they THINK they saw a weapon'. (Because that made the cops respond QUICKLY - as opposed to their usual - I'll get their whenever... )

So - I seriously doubt there were any weapons in his investigation scenario. I am certain that if this person HAD found a weapon of any sort he would have had a big "I TOLD YOU SO" in his posting.... Instead - he just blabs about his 'every right' babble.

And - the sad thing is - we have given OUR EMPLOYEES (yes, our tax dollars pay them all) the keys to the kingdom...

Crawford's Take said...

to biohazard:

It's nice to have your perspective, I honestly appreciate your posts on this issue, especially with your personal experience to draw on, but I think you are missing my point entirely. I do truly appreciate the work done by good policing policies that actually protect people.

I'm not saying that you can't pull people over legitimately for violations.

What I'm saying is this:

How do you know white people are or are not committing crimes if you are ONLY pulling over people of color or if you are selectively setting up stings like Friday's based solely on the times of the day when the majority population is people of color???

You don't. You don't know about all the problems on the beach when it's majority white (generally during the day) because you don't sting it during that time of the day. By the way, I spent some time down there in my youth and the problems are just as bad during the day as during the night, luckily, I was not interested in the activity around me, but still I was no less aware of all the white people's transgressions...

No one knows or will know if the young white kids in the old Gun Club parking lot on Friday night were smoking dope or drunk driving, because they were so focused on skin color when pulling people over, we'll never have those statistics.

From the types of tickets they wrote on Friday night, it seems to me that very few serious violations were found anyway... when you pull over people based on a random profile and only find a suspended driver's license, you are only a tax collector for the state as far as I'm concerned...

ie. they are doing exactly what Kohl's Food Store did...missing the forest for the trees...

Finally, I think the entire exercise was a waste of taxpayer's dollars. Seat belt violations?? Parking tickets?? Come on.

Time would have been much better spent last weekend trying to find the North side arsonist before they kill someone...

Biohazard said...

"From the types of tickets they wrote on Friday night, it seems to me that very few serious violations were found anyway... when you pull over people based on a random profile and only find a suspended driver's license, you are only a tax collector for the state as far as I'm concerned..."

You are still assuming with no evidence that they are picking cars and pulling them over due to their race. I arrest people for suspended licenses and warrants all the time. The way I do this is I pull cars over for LEGAL TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS. This would be the seatbelt violations or loud stereo tickets that you seem to think are a waste of time. Then I check the license and discover if it is invalid. It's all perfectly legal. I don't see what race had to do with it. If a person hits you with their car and their license is invalid, most insurance companies won't pay up. You don't want this enforced?

"Finally, I think the entire exercise was a waste of taxpayer's dollars. Seat belt violations?? Parking tickets?? Come on."

I can probably tell you what is going on. As everyone on this site likes to point out, the police are public servants. Complaints have been made about illegal activity in the park at the times these "sweeps" occur. The police have to respond to these complaints. They did and discovered that there are VIOLATIONS OF THE LAW at these times. Of course they are going to take action in response to these CITIZEN COMPLAINTS. Sorry a certain demographic groups is the ones breaking the law in this case but the police should be expected to tell the people complaining, "Sorry but we can't enforce the laws that you are talking about. We might upset African-Americans."

"Time would have been much better spent last weekend trying to find the North side arsonist before they kill someone..."

This is the typical "don't you have something better to do" that cops hear all the time. Ever hear of the broken windows theory? If the problems in this part are ignored, I am willing to be that bigger problems will eventually move in. At that point, the police will be complained about because they let the situation deteriorate.

It is truly a Gordian problem for the police to please everyone.

Georgia said...

Hey Biohazard,

Next Sunday, or the very next weekend day that you are on duty - how about pulling over every car driven by a NON-african-american driver leaving Brentwood COuntry Club or Bluemound Country CLub after sunset - and checking their licenses and making sure they are wearing seatbelts. Just because... you can because you suspect they might be breaking the law by not wearing their seatbelts.

Or beter yet, how about the very next late power-shift you work, you position yourself outside of the Milwaukee Yacht Club or the Milwaukee Country Club, and breathalyze every driver leaving the parking lot. You know there are potentially many drunk drivers and they are a threat to everyone on the road.


Not that either of those suggestions would ever be carried out - because MONEY is POWER, and the folks at any of the country clubs WOULD HAVE YOUR BADGE - - - You know what it costs to belong to these 'country clubs' and these folks have both POWER and MONEY - and they have connections.

So that reality is: lots of folks get away with lots of stuff because the law is not EQUALLY enforced. Right???

Just wondering...

biohazard said...

Let me respond to Georgia as best I can.

"So - I seriously doubt there were any weapons in his investigation scenario. I am certain that if this person HAD found a weapon of any sort he would have had a big "I TOLD YOU SO" in his posting.... Instead - he just blabs about his 'every right' babble."

You're right. I didn't find a weapon. So what? I had enough REASONABLE SUSPICION to stop the car and detain the occupants. It doesn't change my point a whit. I am just glad that these bangers were only making empty threats instead of carrying around a weapon. Should I have just let them alone and hoped for the best? Or only stopped them if they were white so that I could right the cosmic imbalance?

"So that reality is: lots of folks get away with lots of stuff because the law is not EQUALLY enforced. Right???"

Nobody said the system was perfect. Rich folks, black and white, seem to think that their money intitles them to special treatment.

Let me tell you this though with 100% honesty. Many cops I know (myself included) are more hesitant to stop a black person due to knee-jerk cries of racism than we are to stop a member of this white elite that you are preoccupied with.

I know for a fact that I have let criminals go due to the color of their skin and the fact that I didn't want to have to deal with the racial politics involved with someone playing the race card.

I guess this is what you are aiming for so you should be proud.

Crawford's Take said...

"I guess this is what you are aiming for so you should be proud."

No one is aiming for this! I seem to hear two lines of thinking in this whole discussion...

The law enforcement point of view is: if I have reasonable suspicion, I can pull over whomever I want whenever I want.

Everyone else thinks that the discussion is on pulling over one group or another based on racial profiling.

The real discussion should probably be focused on this: What is reasonable suspicion?

Let me throw out some scenarios and hopefully get an honest answer from biohazard on standard practices.

If someone is black or latino in a crappy car without a seat belt, is that enough reason to have suspicion of them to pull them over?

If a white person is in a really nice Mercedes with a baseball cap turned sideways and without a seat belt, is that reason enough to have suspicion to pull them over?

If a black person is in a really nice Mercedes with a baseball cap turned sideways without a seat belt, is that reason enough to have suspicion to pull them over?

If a white person is stumbling out of the Yacht Club with a $3000 suit would you pull them over or would you focus on the black person without a seatbelt?

What is the definition of reasonable suspicion and does race play a factor in that?

Most of the posters out here think it shouldn't. I get the feeling from your descriptions above that it does, in fact you even admit it when it is to the advantage of your point ("I know for a fact that I have let criminals go due to the color of their skin and the fact that I didn't want to have to deal with the racial politics involved with someone playing the race card. "). Whether this is good or bad for the community is completely in the hands of the officer making the call. This is where the discussion gets hairy.

I'm not sure where you are from and for the most part your policing policies have been represented as having some level of awareness of the fairness of your actions.

Milwaukee's law enforcement for the most part has a history of horrible actions against people of color. Just last year, a man was beaten to near death by a mob of police officers for being black at the wrong party. All of this is undisputed and yet, an all white jury 2 months ago acquitted the police officers of the charges. The Feds are so upset, they've started an investigation. The trial's failure to convict centered around the Code of Silence in the department. One officer actually testified against the officers and the result was they deliberately left her (one of their own...) alone in a very dangerous situation in which her life was in real jeopardy on the job and refused to provide her back up. She escaped with her life thankfully. Other historical problems include the murder of unarmed 17 year old young black man Earnest Lacy in the 1980's, again no accountability; the disregard for a 14 year old Vietnamese child Sinthasinphone's naked cries for help while trying to escape from Jeffrey Dahmer, instead of helping him, they gave him back to Dahmer and laughed about it over the radio as being a lover's quarrel (this officer is now in Pres of the MPD police Union); and finally another very famous case in which a young pretty female cop was framed by the entire MPD for the murder of her husband's ex-wife, her husband also happened to be a cop, he's sitting on a beach in FL on disability and she (Laurencia Bembenek) spent 20 years in prison before clearing her name.

These are just some of the high profile cases in which poor law enforcement behavior led to mistrust in the community of law enforcement as a whole. As I said in my first post. Chief Breier was notorious for terrorizing the black and latino communities in Milwaukee and the officers who served under him are notorious for being, well a really nice word for it would be "unfair".

Milwaukee is one of the most segregated counties in the country. It's no accident that anywhere a minority crosses the river in Milwaukee, they are in jeopardy of being pulled over.

And one more thing. If someone couldn't afford to pay the original ticket (probably also the result of unfair profiling), why is the result another ticket they cannot afford???

I got caught in this cycle many years ago. I could afford a parking ticket, my plates were suspended and I was pulled over for that and given another ticket, I was given a ticket for parking my car with suspended plates, this went on for a year while I continually tried to pay one ticket or another only to get another ticket because I couldn't afford to pay them all at the same time. In the end after paying it all off, I totalled up the cost of not being able to afford to pay that one parking ticket and it came to over $1,100 in fines. Now you would say, why didn't you just park the car? Well, I had a new job at the time and it required driving all over the state, but also required me to pay my expenses up front. I had 3 small children to feed, made a very small salary, and had to have a car to keep the job. The tickets were in jurisdictions all over the state which made it impossible to get to all the trial dates to dispute them or to even show a single judge the burden this had all placed on me, so I kept paying what I could when I could and taking the violations as they came. It was do that or sit on welfare...what a choice.

So next time you pull someone over for a minor violation because of your "reasonable suspicion", ask them why they didn't pay the ticket and then ask yourself, is it worth it to write another one just to bury this otherwise law abiding person further in the legal system? Is this really why I joined the force? Who does giving this person a ticket protect?

Crawford's Take said...

Sorry the parking ticket story should start with "I couldn't afford to pay the ticket..."

Michael J. Cheaney said...

I know this is going to sound harsh, but MY GOD, do you never get tired of being the victim? Every personal story you have written about, EVERYTHING is always somebody elses fault. You can do no wrong but society has screwed YOU at every turn.

"I didn't pay a parking ticket because,I couldn't afford a parking ticket, my plates were suspended and I was pulled over for that and given another ticket, I was given a ticket for parking my car with suspended plates, this went on for a year..."
-Did it NEVER occur to you that if you hadn't parked in that space, you WOULD NOT have gotten a ticket in the first place? Oh wait lemme guess, the NO parking sign was obstructed. I am also guessing that even after you racked up all those tickets, you never went into court and asked to be set up on a payment plan, which would have allowed you to continue to feed your family, AND work to pay off the tickets?

My larger point is this...we all make choices in life some big some small, but when we make the wrong ones IT IS NOT RIGHT to scream "it's not my fault...its racial profiling.

Crawford's Take said...

LOL! Man Cheney? Needed to blow a little steam from all that pent up hostility huh? Don't worry, Conservatives always have a little more steam than Libs.

Well, I'm glad you come out here to read me anyway, apparantely something about my writing is appealing to you...

To respond to your comment... I'm NOT saying that the parking ticket was not my fault. I had NO money left, was unemployed for about 2 months, had a job interview and made a choice to park in a spot without filling the meter. I took the risk and lost. (Does that make you feel better?)

The problems only started there, and it's a much longer story than I have time to tell, but the point is that shit happens and sometimes, it's not as easy in reality to deal with it as it seems. People have all kinds of stories similar to this.

Not to mention it was YEARS ago and clearly I've learned the lesson the hard way... Hopefully by telling the story, more people will pay their parking tickets and the cops can start PROTECTING us like we pay them to do... or are your tax dollars better spent on b.s. seat belt violations during racially motivated stings by a sheriff up for reelection?

And if I was a County Sheriff, I'd be pissed being used by my boss on the job to generate a headline in an election year...hey, didn't Jensen just convicted of a felony for that???

biohazard said...

These are 100% honest answers to these questions.

"If someone is black or latino in a crappy car without a seat belt, is that enough reason to have suspicion of them to pull them over?"

--yep. However, the reasonable suspicion is the actual seatbelt violation. Race isn't part of reasonable suspicion in this case.

If a white person is in a really nice Mercedes with a baseball cap turned sideways and without a seat belt, is that reason enough to have suspicion to pull them over?

--yep. Same answer as previous.

If a black person is in a really nice Mercedes with a baseball cap turned sideways without a seat belt, is that reason enough to have suspicion to pull them over?

--yep. Same answer as previous.

If a white person is stumbling out of the Yacht Club with a $3000 suit would you pull them over or would you focus on the black person without a seatbelt?

--The white person BECAUSE OF THE STUMBLING. DWI/DUI is a more serious crime than a seatbelt violation.

What is the definition of reasonable suspicion and does race play a factor in that?

Definition as per dictionary.com-an objectively justifiable suspicion that is based on specific facts or circumstances and that justifies stopping and sometimes searching (as by frisking) a person thought to be involved in criminal activity at the time .

Race only plays a role if the SPECIFIC suspect description involves race. Example: A black male just robbed a bank and ran out the back door. You exit the back door and see four people, one of which is black. This would be enough to stop the person as long as other descriptors didn't conflict. The same would be true if the race was white, or asian, or whatever. The only reason this is okay is because you a specific suspect. It would be silly to stop a white person if a black person just robbed the bank.

Now, if you just decide to make seatbelt stops but only on a specific race, that is wrong wrong wrong. Race should not be a factor in these types of decisions. All cops are taught that this is wrong and I do not know of any that do this. If you are caught doing it, you are usually shown the door. It may happen on rare occasions but these officers are the exception. Certainly, a whole department won't decide to stop only black people to intimidate them, especially a large one. Not gonna happen.

Crawford's Take said...

"Now, if you just decide to make seatbelt stops but only on a specific race, that is wrong wrong wrong. Race should not be a factor in these types of decisions. All cops are taught that this is wrong and I do not know of any that do this. If you are caught doing it, you are usually shown the door. It may happen on rare occasions but these officers are the exception. Certainly, a whole department won't decide to stop only black people to intimidate them, especially a large one. Not gonna happen. "

You have just made MY ENTIRE POINT. The Racial Profiling that happened on the lakefront last Friday SPECIFICALLY TARGETTED ONLY people of color and more specifically blacks and latinos.

That's why I was so infuriated. The Festival on one end of the Lakefront was spewing out stumbling wealthy white people and yet the traffic stops ONLY focused on seat belt violations by people of color.

I agree with your answers above for the most part, but my point is that for political reasons, OUR sheriff decided to harrass 80 people of color on the Lakefront when more serious violations were clearly taking place.

It seems we now are at a point where we agree that something was very wrong on Milwaukee's Lakefront last Friday night...

Thanks for your answers! Renee

biohazard said...

Yes...we are in full agreement on this.*sarcasim*

The police are racist and should not stop black people for minor traffic violations.

Instead, they should ignore violations of the law and only focus on catching the "serious" crimes.

Yes...the police department you speak of is most certainly engaged in a racist and blatant attempt to intimidate black people because:

1. the police hate black people and:
2. the police are afraid to bother white people.

I see it so clearly now. Those darn police should obviously ignore citizen complaints about loud music and violations of park curfew if black people are involved.

Good luck with dealing with those evil police who gave you a ticket for something you did even though they shouldn't have and it's not really your fault. S

houldn't they have been out looking for rapists or something more serious instead of paying attention to those silly parking signs?

Crawford's Take said...

I did not say ALL police are racists! I said Milwaukee has a deep seeded and long history of unequal treatment. I also said that although there were most certainly many drunk white people (I even spoke to a few this week) driving down the lakefront that night from the Arts festival, the ONLY people they pulled over were minorities. It just doesn't pass the sniff test.

Although I do have to say the for the first time in years, I saw a white woman in a BMW pulled over this morning on the lakefront by a sheriff...maybe what so many out here are afraid of is that a little pressure and exposure will force the force to stop profiling and everyone will be equally profiled for legal reasons to be pulled over down there.

If I were white, that may make me pretty angry with me for bringing it up.