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Op-Ed: Profiling — Common sense and nonsense

By Alexander Baron     Nov 26, 2013 in Crime
The Trayvon Martin and Trayon Christian cases have led to much wailing and gnashing of teeth over so-called racial profiling. Profiling has both its uses and its limitations.
Ever heard of a serial killer named John Wayne...sure you have. This one is not Des Plaines' most notorious resident Mr "Killer Clown" Gacy but John Wayne Glover. Glover was born in England, and emigrated to Australia in the 1950s. Had he lived, today would have been his 81st birthday. His claim to notoriety is that between January 1989 and January the following year he murdered 6 elderly women in Sydney. His other such claim is that he did not fit the profile of a serial killer. Glover was nearly 60 years old when he committed his first murder; even though he had previous convictions for sexual assaults on women dating to 1962, he was never in the frame, indeed he was as good as invisible. Primarily the police were looking for a much younger person or even a teenager, almost certainly a male. You will find an excellent documentary about Glover on YouTube. He was apprehended only as a result of a lucky break.
As with the case of John Wayne Glover, a lot of what passes for profiling is garbage, worse than that, it's voodoo. The profile put together for the Washington Sniper killings was of an angry white male with a gun; it turned out to be a man and a teenage boy, neither of whom were white.
George Zimmerman was said to have profiled Trayvon Martin; a more reasonable, and honest, assessment, is that he was a wannabe cop. Subsequent developments indicate that it is not simply young black males who should give this dude a wide berth.
The tragic Renisha McBride was said to have been profiled by her acknowledged killer, yet from the evidence that has emerged to date, Theodore Wafer didn't know her race, and quite likely not her sex, in short, she was simply yet another victim of America's insane gun culture.
Another case in which profiling was worse than useless but positively harmful was that of serial rapist John Worboys because the Metropolitan Police assumed that a black cab driver would not indeed could not have been responsible for sex attacks on vulnerable women.
The latest case of alleged profiling - racial profiling - is Trayon Christian, who bought an expensive belt and was arrested for "shopping while black".
This case has been reported uncritically by the usual suspects, but is it really so outrageous for shop staff and/or police and/or anyone to suspect a teenager of shopping with a stolen credit or debit card? How about a young girl who goes shoplifting in New York City with a dead baby in a bag as per this report? What profile did she fit? Tiona Rodriguez is just seventeen, and already has one (live) child.
Let's look at this another way, does any shopkeeper want to not sell a $350 belt or $350 anything to a black customer? The lawyer of another black customer, Kayla Philips, has announced his client intends to sue the same store for $5 million over a similar affair concerning a $2,000+ handbag. What kind of shakedown is this?
So what is going on here? Here is a recent story from the UK.
On November 15, a body was found dumped in a well near Warlingham, Surrey. This resulted in no less than seven men aged 21 to 27 being arrested on suspicion of murder. It was later revealed that the body had been there for at least 2 years. Because of this it seems unlikely that any of those arrested were involved in what at the moment is being treated as a murder. All 7 have been bailed until next month, and in any case it is just as unlikely that the victim was murdered by more than one person - two perhaps, three maybe, but seven? None of these passing suspects have made any noise about their arrests, and it is as good as certain that none of them will even contemplate any sort of civil action against any party on account of this unfortunate incident.
In the UK, we call this a mistake, an honest error. Likewise the incident with Trayon Christian was an honest mistake. Christian should have asked for an apology; he would probably have got it - whether or not an apology by the store was warranted - he might even have been given a good will voucher. Now he just looks like an angry young black kid with a chip on his shoulder who is out to make a fast buck.
It would be interesting to see how many people - black, white and other, young and not so young - have been stopped at New York stores in similar fashion, and how many of these have been a) totally innocent and b) engaged in card fraud.
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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