Can You Imagine an Existence Without Racial Profiling?
With Assembly Bill 953 (Preventing Racial Profiling by Law Enforcement), We Can.
Imagine that harassment and oppression are a routine part of your life. That on a regular basis, you, your loved ones, and your community are consistently targeted by police because of your race or identity. Imagine the trauma caused by the knowledge that no one was keeping track of when this happened and that the police were not being held accountable for their actions.
Many communities in California do not have to imagine this at all. Many people of color, whether cis gender, transgender, or gender non-conforming adults, and children, are constantly targeted by law enforcement because of their race or identity even when there is NO evidence of criminal activity. A 2015 report by a police department in California found that blacks were stopped twice as often as their driving age demographic representation, and that blacks and Latinos were searched at three and two times the rate of whites, respectively.
For these communities racial and identity profiling, though currently illegal, is a routine part of their reality and is the entry way to mass incarceration, and other disparities.
Now, imagine an existence where police are held accountable for their actions, and where we can get basic information about what police are up to. That when police are trained, this training takes into account that the officer may have biases about race and identity that impact how they treat you and your community. Imagine if there were a group of people, an—advisory council, so to speak,—whose job it were to monitor how the police are interacting with your community with the goal of protecting you against racial profiling. Imagine that each and every time the police, stop, search, or shoot someone, it were reported or somehow captured.
Now, realize that there is a bill (AB 953), making its way through the California Legislature right now, that will do much of what we imagined above. Although, we know that collecting data will not fix broader issues with disparate policing, but increased transparency and accountability will bring us one step closer to a more just system.
In short, AB 953 allows us to #ImagineNoRacialProfiling and to imagine a system in which #BlackLivesMatter.
What you need to know about AB 953:
1. Racial and identity profiling occurs when law enforcement personnel stop, search, seize property from, or interrogate a person without evidence of criminal activity.
2. Though racial profiling by law enforcement is technically illegal, to date, California does not collect or make public basic information about who police stop, search, or even shoot. AB 953 would change that.
3. The Bill was authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), and the cosponsors are Dignity and Power Now, the ACLU of California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Sacramento, PICO California, Reform California, and Youth Justice Coalition.
4. The Bill is currently on the California Assembly Floor which means that THIS WEEK, on JUNE 3RD it will be voted on by ALL MEMBERS OF THE CA ASSEMBLY.
AB 953 is on its way to the Assembly floor for a vote on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3RD. The law enforcement lobby is ramping up its efforts and we need votes to pass this bill and protect our communities!
Photo: Balthazar Beckett