Petition to end racial profiling

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T. Zhang and N. Jovicevic

According to United States Department of Justice, racial profiling is “any police-initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity or national origin of an individual, rather than his behavior or any other criminal evidences.”

Such discriminative actions can also take place in jurisdictions when law enforcement personnel make a legal decision, like searching or arresting based on a person’s racial and cultural identity.

On Aug. 9, 2014, African American teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by a caucasian police officer while he was walking with his friend on Ferguson Street at night. The incident began when the driving police officer asked them to move to sidewalk. As they struggled through the window of the police car, police Wilson’s gun was fired, either intentionally or as a result of the struggle.

A large protest condemning the police’s racial profiling action was evoked in the African American-based Ferguson community, with most of the police being caucasian. It reminds me of the shooting of the innocent 17-year-old boy Trayvon Martin two years ago.

How could the police suspect an unarmed teenage boy with only skittles in his pocket a threat to the society merely based on his clothing of a black hoodie and his race? How can we put faith in those officers who are supposed to protect our lives and rights if they choose to punish innocent people because of racial stereotypes? How can we trust the virtues of humanity if people still judge each other based on their appearances after 400 years of civilization?

Nevertheless, ending racial profiling is not only the responsibility of the police and the law enforcement personnel, but also of everyone else in the society. I believe only when the society as a whole forms a common understanding about treating people with different racial and cultural backgrounds equally can the chances of racial profiling significantly reduce.

Last week, 106 Wesleyan students have signed the petition for “To End Racial Profiling Act” during the petition drive organized by Amnesty International Chapter in school. The act aims to make racial profiling illegal and train law enforcement officers to act based on behavior instead of race or religion in their jobs. It will be delivered to the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate and President Barack Obama with the collection of 75,000 signatures.

Just like Martin Luther King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that; hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” I believe with everyone’s conscious efforts, one day racial profiling cases will cease to exist.