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Tag Archives: Driving While Black

DWB…By The Numbers

Great article in the NYT, with lots of information and data analyzing DWB Traffic Stops, and steps some communities are taking to change. Hit the link below and go over and read it!

The Disproportionate Risks of Driving While Black

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Rufus Scales, 26 and black, was driving his younger brother Devin to his hair-cutting class in this genteel, leafy city when they heard the siren’s whoop and saw the blue light in the rearview mirror of their black pickup. Two police officers pulled them over for minor infractions that included expired plates and failing to hang a flag from a load of scrap metal in the pickup’s bed. But what happened next was nothing like a routine traffic stop.

Uncertain whether to get out of the car, Rufus Scales said, he reached to restrain his brother from opening the door. A black officer stunned him with a Taser, he said, and a white officer yanked him from the driver’s seat. Temporarily paralyzed by the shock, he said, he fell face down, and the officer dragged him across the asphalt.

Rufus Scales emerged from the encounter with four traffic tickets; a charge of assaulting an officer, later dismissed; a chipped tooth; and a split upper lip that required five stitches.

That was May 2013. Today, his brother Devin does not leave home without first pocketing a hand-held video camera and a business card with a toll-free number for legal help. Rufus Scales instinctively turns away if a police car approaches.

“Whenever one of them is near, I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t feel safe,” he said.

As most of America now knows, those pervasive doubts about the police mirror those of millions of other African-Americans. More than a year of turmoil over the deaths of unarmed blacks after encounters with the police in Ferguson, Mo., in Baltimore and elsewhere has sparked a national debate over how much racial bias skews law enforcement behavior, even subconsciously.

Documenting racial profiling in police work is devilishly difficult, because a multitude of factors — including elevated violent crime rates in many black neighborhoods — makes it hard to tease out evidence of bias from other influences. But an analysis by The New York Times of tens of thousands of traffic stops and years of arrest data in this racially mixed city of 280,000 uncovered wide racial differences in measure after measure of police conduct.

Those same disparities were found across North Carolina, the state that collects the most detailed data on traffic stops. And at least some of them showed up in the six other states that collect comprehensive traffic-stop statistics.

Here in North Carolina’s third-largest city, officers pulled over African-American drivers for traffic violations at a rate far out of proportion with their share of the local driving population. They used their discretion to search black drivers or their cars more than twice as often as white motorists — even though they found drugs and weapons significantly more often when the driver was white.

Officers were more likely to stop black drivers for no discernible reason. And they were more likely to use force if the driver was black, even when they did not encounter physical resistance.

The routine nature of the stops belies their importance.

As the public’s most common encounter with law enforcement, they largely shape perceptions of the police. Indeed, complaints about traffic-law enforcement are at the root of many accusations that some police departments engage in racial profiling. Since Ferguson erupted in protests in August last year, three of the deaths of African-Americans that have roiled the nation occurred after drivers were pulled over for minor traffic infractions: a broken brake light, a missing front license plate and failure to signal a lane change.

Violence is rare, but routine traffic stops more frequently lead to searches, arrests and the opening of a trapdoor into the criminal justice system that can have a lifelong impact, especially for those without the financial or other resources to negotiate it….(more)

Yet traffic codes are so minutely drawn that virtually every driver will break some rule within a few blocks, experts say. “The traffic code is the best friend of the police officer,” said David A. Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who studies police behavior and search-and-seizure law.

When a Greensboro officer pulled over Keith Maryland and Jasmine McRae, who are black, in Mr. Maryland’s burgundy Nissan early one evening in March, even that vast authority was exceeded, claimed Mr. Maryland’s lawyer, Graham Holt.

In an interview, Mr. Maryland said Officer Christopher Cline had told him that his registration had expired, although it was clearly valid for 15 more days. The officer then said Ms. McRae, sitting in the back seat, “looked like someone” and asked to search her purse. Officers do not have to tell drivers or their passengers that they have the right to refuse, and like the vast majority of people, Ms. McRae agreed. The officer found a small amount of marijuana and several grams of cocaine and arrested her.

Mr. Holt said the stop was illegal because there was no traffic infraction. And in fact, a police corporal summoned Mr. Maryland to the station the next day and scrawled VOID across the ticket for an expired registration.

But the department and a city review board still found that the officer had acted lawfully. And Ms. McRae ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession. She was sentenced to probation, incurring hundreds of dollars in fees.…More here…

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2015 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Driving While Black? There’s an Ap for That!

The Original DWB Guide

One of the common misconceptions out there is that DWB only affects young black males. Looking at the number of stops by Police in some areas and the vast differential between black motorists being stopped and whites… It really is an issue which cuts across all economic, professional, and educational lines. The anger and frustration being expressed by the tens of thousand marching in the streets isn’t just about the murder of young black men like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Mike Brown – it is about systemic discrimination which impacts the lives of many black Americans.

Driving While Black? App Developers Offer Advice

Though the developers of the soon-to-be released “Driving While Black” smartphone application want motorists to download their product, there is a time when they definitely don’t want users searching for it.

“Do not reach for your phone when you are talking to police,” stressed Melvin Oden-Orr, one of two Portland lawyers creating the app.

Avoiding moves that could make police think you’re reaching for a gun is just one tip included in the app that educates drivers about how to safely deal with police during traffic stops.

Despite its attention-grabbing name, Oden-Orr said the app due for release in late December will provide common sense advice to motorists of all races and outline what civil rights you have during a stop. With the phone hopefully in a hands-free device, the app allows drivers to send an alert to friends and family that they have been pulled over. There’s also a recording function to document the interaction with an officer.

The app is coming to market as protesters around the country keep attention on instances of deadly encounters with police in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. Similar apps also are aimed at helping people navigate interactions with police.

Three Georgia teenagers created “Five-O,” an app released this summer that lets people rate their interactions with law enforcement. And last month, American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in four states unveiled “Mobile Justice,” an app that allows users to take video of police encounters and upload the video to the ACLU. It’s modeled on “Stop and Frisk Watch,” an app released for New Yorkers in 2012.

“It’s obviously in the forefront of everybody’s mind; the police know they are being recorded and people in public know they can record,” said Sarah Rossi, director of advocacy and policy for the ACLU Missouri affiliate. “I think the benefit of this app (Mobile Justice) specifically is it goes straight to the ACLU and we can review it for any due-process violations.”

The apps also include a “Know Your Rights” section that informs people about their rights when contacted by police.

Portland attorney Mariann Hyland got the idea for “Driving While Black” after learning of an app for drivers suspected of drunken driving. She approached Oden-Orr in April, and the two have been working on the app since summer with software developer James Pritchett.

The term “driving while black,” perhaps unfamiliar to some, is common among African-Americans. A Justice Department report released last year, based on a survey of those stopped by police in 2011, suggests blacks are more likely than whites to be pulled over and have their cars searched. Moreover, African-Americans are much more likely to believe a traffic stop is not legitimate…

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in The New Jim Crow

 

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DWB in Missouri

This is becoming more common than being stopped while swarthy in Arizona…

Racial disparity growing in Mo. traffic stops

Black motorists in Missouri are being stopped by police at an increasingly disproportionate rate compared with white and Hispanic motorists, according to a report released Tuesday by the attorney general.

Missouri’s 10th annual traffic stop analysis shows black motorists were 70 percent more likely than white drivers — and twice as likely as Hispanic motorists — to be stopped by law enforcement officers in 2009.

The figures compare the racial breakdown of Missouri’s driving-age population to the racial composition of drivers in more than 1.7 million traffic stops made by 642 law enforcement agencies.

The disparity for black drivers has risen nearly every year since 2001, when Missouri became the first state to publish a report examining the racial demographics of its traffic stops. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Domestic terrorism

 

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DWB? Try DWBM!

That Sinking Feeling

That Sinking Feeling

DWB is a familiar term to some folks. You KNOW who you are!

But DWBM? And no, the “M” here isn’t for Male.

Man Jailed 3 Months for DWBM – Driving With Breath Mints?

Donald May probably wishes he had just let his breath stay funky.

According to May, it was his bad luck to be chewing on breath mints when he was pulled over for an expired tag on his car. The arresting officer thought the mints looked like crack cocaine rocks and threw Mays in the slammer for drug possession.

“He took [the mints] out of my mouth and put them in a baggy and locked me up [for] possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence,” May explained.

The officer claimed he field-tested the evidence and it tested positive for drugs. The officer said he saw May buying drugs while he was stopped at an intersection. He also stated in his report May waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily admitted to buying drugs.

May said that never happened.”My client never admitted he purchased crack cocaine. Why would he say that?” attorney Adam Sudbury said.

May’s life was turned upside down when he was unable to bond out. While in jail for three months, May lost his job, was evicted from his apartment and his car was auctioned off. May was only released from jail once the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office sent a letter stating test results confirmed that there were no drugs.

Believe it or not, it is possible that the mints tested positive. As it turns out, drug field tests routinely return false positives:

It’s a bit odd how often narco field testing kits turn back false positives. In the past, we’ve seen chocolate chip cookies, deodorant, billiards chalk, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap come back positive, all causing undeserved, firsthand familiarity with the criminal justice system for the owners of the innocuous substances. Looks like we can now add breath mints to the list.

But Donald May might just have the last laugh yet; he is suing the city for false arrest and false imprisonment and wants to be compensated for his losses. My hunch? He’s about to get paid.

Damn! Those Altoid Mints really are…

“Curiously Strong”!

Strong Enough to Test Positive?

Strong Enough to Test Positive?

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2009 in Nawwwwww!

 

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