In the UK, without “reasonable suspicion” as a law enforcement policy, Black people are 35x more likely to be stopped and questioned by police. With the policy in place, Black folks are 7x more likely than white people to be stopped and questioned. This statistic was presented to us at special convening of international “experts” on racism, hosted by Mutuma Ruteere, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenohobia and Related intolerance. I was excited to represent DPN at this convening for a two-day discussion on conditions and best practices for combating racial discrimination. Across the two day convening the statistic stuck with me for two reasons: 1) It points out how real anti-blackness is as an international practice in law enforcement, and 2) Racial profiling is much harder to track and monitor in the jail setting because it requires that that law enforcement be invested in tracking its own personnel’s racist practices. I can’t see the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department doing that.
Dignity and Power Now has been prioritizing the international human rights framework this year; including our shadow report we submitted to the UN as part of a review of US compliance with the international convention of eliminating racial discrimination. Our report focused on abuses and discrimination of Black people with mental health conditions in the jails and pointed out the same dilemma I mentioned above. The dilemma being that behind the jail walls the ever present violence against Black and Brown people is invisible. One of the clearest examples of this is the tremendous lack of data and tracking on racial and gender discrimination as well as human rights violations behind the jail walls.
The recent Department of Justice critique of the Los Angeles County Jails as unconstitutional is important but the United States is not immune to human rights violations. Our loved ones coming out of the jails know this. Our loved ones who are still inside know this. As we move forward with our campaign to win civilian oversight, stop the $2 billion jail plan, and win mental health diversion that decarcerates Black and Brown people from the county jail system, DPN is invested in protecting the civil and human rights of all incarcerated people.