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Posted: August 1st, 2022
Racial Discrimination on Minorities by the Police
Racial profiling is a discriminatory tendency by people in authority to that targets certain people as crime suspects because of the color of their skin or ethnicity. In law enforcement, there is a general practice of criminal profiling. The law enforcement officers associate certain group characteristics with crime. In the Canadian society, racial profiling by the police occurs in many ways. For instance, the police profile people to determine which cars to stop for illegal contraband searches and minor traffic charges. Racial profiling builds on the stereotypes that are present in the society. The targeting of certain ethnic groups in the society by law enforcement officers is traceable to the days of racial segregation and dominance.
Racial discrimination was an open practice in the society some decades ago. The dominant majority felt that they were superior human beings. Therefore, a special set of laws existed to govern and control the minorities (Hayle, Wortley, & Tanner, 2016). The law enforcement officers were more stringent and ruthless to the minority. The dominant feeling was that the minority only existed to serve the interest of the majority. Lucrative opportunities for development were for the majority.
Consequently, the minority lagged behind economically and they had to contend with working for lesser pay for equal work done. The economic limitations pushed the minority to look for alternative ways to survive (Hayle, Wortley, & Tanner, 2016). Unfortunately, a small percentage of the minorities joined crime. The subsequent clamp down by the law enforcement officers targeted all the minorities. Stereotypes consistent with criminality and lawlessness informed the perception of the minority. To date, law enforcement officers have maintained the point of view and the minority have had to deal with many forms of injustice.
According to the Ottawa Sun, a study conducted by York University discovered that racial profiling is evident in Canada. The study investigated 81,902 traffic stops by police officers (Spratt, 2016). The findings of the report state that the police stopped the visible minorities in a rate that is disproportionate in comparison to the white drivers. Specifically, the report stated that a driver, whose descent is clearly from the Middle East, is likely to be stopped 3.3 times more than a white man or woman. On the other hand, the prevalence for a black driver is 2.3 times when compared to a white driver.
Multicultural societies are rich in perspective. People with roots and experiences from different parts of the world can learn a lot from each other. However, the stereotyping in society prevents people from understanding the unique human qualities in other people (Hayle, Wortley, & Tanner, 2016). Multicultural societies need to cultivate a system of tolerance to foster meaningful coexistence. One of the best ways of doing so is by dealing with the historical injustices that affected the ethnic minorities. All sections of the society should feel like they have an equal chance at succeeding in education, employment and commerce. Additionally, the public needs education on the need to embrace the multiculturalism in the society.
The historical economic disparity drove some sections of the minority to crime, gangs and drugs. In the modern society, people need income to survive. Therefore, in the absence of income, some individuals resorted to the vices to make ends meet. In black dominated neighborhoods, in Ottawa, the rate of crime is high due to the desperation in the society. Employment opportunities are scarce for people individuals with convicted records. When a section of the society feels disconnected, it reacts by taking actions in defiance and protest. Crime, gangs and drugs are the results of a broken system.
Still, only a small section of the minority societies is involved in the vices. If all members of the minority were criminals, then the neighborhoods would be ungovernable. However, the government appears to have condemned such neighborhoods because of the vices. Some of the children born in such neighborhoods appear stuck in the dangerous vices because they do not know another way to survive. Such societies even lack role models for children to look up to because people who do well move out such communities immediately. The only idols for the children are the people engraved in the vices. The high rate of racial profiling has also made the people to have a defensive instinct towards the police. The interactions between police and the minorities are uncomfortable and in most cases, it results in unnecessary violence. The war against the vices is only possible through the help of the communities. The law enforcement officers need to engage members of the community constructively to overcome the challenges.
Racial profiling is evident when police officers suspect and individual merely because they look in a certain way. For instance, if a law enforcement officer sees a black man driving an expensive car, the racist conclusion is that the vehicle does not belong to the individual (Melchers, 2003). The perception is that the black person has no capacity to work hard a drive such a car. Therefore, the officer ends up with a conclusion that the individual is a thief. On most occasions, the police officer stop the car and they ask for documentation. If not immediately provided a confrontation may ensue because the police officer already have a fixed mindset on the individual.
In Toronto, the rate of racial discrimination is similar to the findings from Ottawa. The police have an overbearing personality over the visible minorities. In some settings, individuals feel more threatened by the law enforcement officers than the criminals (Tanovich, 2006). The law enforcement officers treat all the individuals with suspicion. In case of a crime, people are afraid of providing information to the law enforcement officers and that defeats the interests of justice.
The system of racial profiling is not sustainable for any setting. Some sections of the society feel oppressed and it interferes with their productivity. Consequently, people feel the need to turn to vices in order to survive. The rise in gangs, violence and crime is partly attributable to racial profiling. The same perception denies people business and employment opportunities. Embracing a multicultural society is one of the ways of overcoming racial profiling. People need to understand that they stand a better chance against their challenges by uniting. Law enforcement officers should know that the individuals in the minority societies are also suffering because of the crime levels. Therefore, a positive engagement between the officers and the community can help to deal with the root causes of the problem. The research by York University demonstrated the high rate of racial profiling in Ottawa. Such studies on the nature of our societies are necessary. A corrective measure should follow the study to improve the society and the livelihoods of the people.
Hayle, S., Wortley, S., & Tanner, J. (2016). Race, street life, and policing: Implications for racial profiling. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 58(3), 322-353.
Melchers, R. (2003). Do Toronto police engage in racial profiling?. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 45(3), 347-366.
Spratt, M. (2016). Racism at the police department? it’s part of the system. The Ottawa Sun.
Tanovich, D. M. (2006). The colour of justice: Policing race in Canada (p. 171). Toronto: Irwin Law.
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