Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DOJ investigates LA Sheriff for profiling

I've been documenting the work of the DOJ Civil Rights Division here - especially to combat those naysayers who want to claim that this administration has done nothing for African Americans (yes, looking at you Travis and Cornel).

Today comes this story from ColorLines.

The Department of Justice announced an investigation into allegations of racial discrimination by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department on Friday. Deputies in the Antelope Valley, specifically in the historically white cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, have been repeatedly accused of unwarranted stops and searches of black and Latino residents of government subsidized housing, according to the Associated Press.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is accused of attempting to identify and harass residents of subsidized housing in the region through unjustified but routine traffic stops. Additionally, the Justice Department wants to determine whether warrantless searches of housing projects by LASD deputies violated the civil rights of their low-income residents, according to AP...

Joe Brown, president of the Pasadena chapter of the NAACP, believes the profiling is not the result of poor individual policing, but rather a sign of top-down discriminatory practices. He explained that as the price of real estate in cities like Pasadena began to rise, places like Lancaster and Palmdale, with affordable housing more readily available, began to look attractive to lower-income people of color. Because of public transportation, people could live in these outlying distant communities yet still make the commute back to more central areas of Los Angeles for work. Brown charges that Lancaster’s mayor, R. Rex Parris, has worked to turn his city back into the white haven it once was by ordering the sheriff to harass people in public housing.

“It’s really about economics, but the city’s mayor has made it about race,” said Brown...

Brown has hope that the Justice Department’s L.A. investigation will change institutionalized bias of law enforcement agencies all over the country. “It will send a message that you cannot target any particular group because of their income,” he said.

This, my friends, is how you fight institutional racism.

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