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article imageOp-Ed: Did Obama’s Election Change How Police Treat Black Americans?

By Carol Forsloff     May 4, 2009 in Politics
The election of the first black President didn’t and likely won’t change police tactics regarding how blacks are treated by police. At least they won’t change for awhile.
Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency on November 4, 2008. The following month near the border of Mississippi and Alabama an African star athlete, Billie Joe Johnson, was killed by police at a routine traffic stop. On January 1, 2009, the month of Obama’s inauguration, Robert Tolan, Jr., a black man, a baseball player in the minor leagues and son of a retired major league baseball player, was killed by police right in his front yard at his home. He had been shot while unarmed and lying on the ground facedown. During that very same time in Oakland California, a black man by the name of Oscar Grant, father of a daughter, was shot in the back by police while lying down on a subway platform. This took place in Oakland, California.
These were just three examples of police tactics that happen too often in the African American community and show that certain behaviors continue. All of these were young men who were killed were under the age of 25.
Facts suggest they may have been victims of racial profiling, a situation that continues in many communities.
Some people, however, still have trouble believing these things happen; but from a personal example I know something about profiling. Before being killed on the highway in an accident with another car that him his head on a few years ago, a young African American male college student and two of his friends were driving from Florida to Louisiana to visit my husband and me. I had advised them to fly instead because I was anxious about their driving that distance and what might happen with three black males on that route through the South. They advised me I was too anxious, that this wasn’t the 1960’s and not to worry. But they were wrong.
Along the route, these three black, African American males, with no history of drugs, violence, or bad behavior, all in their 20’s, and one I had known since childhood, were followed by a police car for more than 70 miles. They had not been speeding, drinking or involved in a crime, according to reports. Still they were pulled over near a convenience store and patted down before being released, with no ticket or warning, just by a policeman who said they “looked suspicious.” They were dressed in clean jeans, simple shirts and driving a rather ordinary-looking car. By the time they got to our house, they were shaking and scared. Did they get a badge number? No, they were too frightened.
People might think Obama’s election would change things right away? The incident I related occurred more than three years ago. The incidents reported in the news happened right after the election results.
Amnesty International reveals the issues annually and declares that racial profiling raises antagonisms and makes us all less safe. Every year this organization relates the statistics on the matter. 26 states have no laws against it. Amnesty International recommends federal legislation be enacted to deal with this problem.
Eric Holder, a black man, is now the nation’s top cop as Attorney General under Obama’s administration. Civil liberties and racial profiling will be among the concerns facing this new appointee.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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