By Brenda Bell White,
Coordinator of Concerned African-American Mothers
On any given day/night African American males have historically been stopped while driving or walking disproportionately by MPD, just check MPD’s traffic and other statistics. Chief Flynn took a bad and illegal practice of discrimination to a new level when he implemented his “traffic stop initiative” only in the African American community. Chief Flynn has tried to explain away this discriminatory policy as not being “racial profiling”, but rather “targeting the high crime areas of Milwaukee”, “areas where African Americans are victims of crime”, etc. The chief has stated that he will not apologize for reducing crime in Milwaukee. Concerned African American Mothers (CAAM) challenge to the chief is what does racial profiling have to do with crime reduction?
“Racial profiling occurs whenever police routinely use race as a factor that, along with an accumulation of other factors causes an officer to react with suspicion and take action”. Racial profiling is defined as “the act or process of extrapolating information about a person based on known traits or tendencies; specifically: the act of suspecting or targeting a person on the basis of observed characteristics or behavior”. Chief Flynn has targeted the entire Milwaukee African American community as suspect on the pre-text of “crime statistics, crime reduction and protecting Black people”.
Chief Flynn and MPD are not the only police department guilty of racial profiling in Milwaukee; on May 28, 2010 a visiting African American professor from Yale University was the victim of racial profi ling on the UW-Milwaukee campus. Even after presenting his UWM identification, one would think whatever the suspicion by the campus police it would have been laid to rest, but it wasn’t; the professor was disrespected, humiliated and intimidated to the point he feared for his safety. In law all persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. That includes Black people too. The presumption of innocence should include courtesy and civility by police rather than disrespect and intimidation. UWM cleared the officers citing they followed procedures; racial profiling is systemic, the corporate culture – the policies and procedures are a big part of the problem, they are inherently discriminatory!
MPD treats African American child victims of crime like criminals instead of victims; they are placed in police squads and interviewed without their parents, even though the parents are not the perpetrators of the crime; they are also driven off by MPD without their parents and without the parents knowing where the child is being taken. These child victims are often badgered to change their version of what happened to them, this was the case for an African American teen female that was the victim of a failed sexual assault attempt.
CAAM denounces the Chief’s policies and filed a complaint with the Fire & Police Commission, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Federal Judiciary Committee, other federal and state committees/entities. Racial profiling is a practice that employs intimidation, disrespect, as well as humiliation. The Milwaukee African American community is under siege and has become a virtual police state reminiscent of slavery, the Jim Crow era and South Africa Apartheid.
Racial profiling contributes to the perpetual holocaust that African Americans have endured since slavery, unlike other groups our holocaust is far from over. African Americans are readily identified for who we are black people. African Americans skin color continues to be the trigger for instant discrimination and ill treatment in this city, state and country.
As concerned African American mother’s we believe strongly that whether it is 5 percent, 15 percent or 25 percent of African American’s committing crime the other 95 percent, 85 percent or 75 percent of African Americans should not be harassed, disrespected, intimidated or discriminated against by MPD, UW-Milwaukee or any other police department in this state or country. People should not be stopped while driving or walking unless they are in the act of actively committing a crime or about to. Active traffic violations are the pre-text for Chief Flynn’s “traffic stop initiative” CAAM’s response to the chief is there are active traffic violations all over the city. So, if the traffic stop program is to reduce traffic violations then it should be implemented all over the city not just in the African American community. CAAM believes the chief’s real motive is intimidation and to hold the African American community hostage, are curfews next?
CAAM states enough already, stop the racial profiling of our African American males, African Americans in general, the mistreatment of African American child victims of crimes and holding our community hostage. We will never re-live slavery, the Jim Crow south or South Africa Apartheid again. Enough Already! Chief Flynn reduce crime without racial profiling!
“Racial profiling occurs when race is used by law enforcement or private security officials, to any degree, as a basis for criminal suspicion in non-suspect specific investigations. Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, nationality or on any other particular identity undermines the basic human rights and freedoms to which every person is entitled”. Amnesty International USA
“Racial profiling . . . is one of the most ineffective strategies, and I call it nothing less than lazy, sloppy police work. It’s basically saying you don’t want to learn about your community, you don’t want to learn about people’s behavior, you don’t want to do your job, and don’t want to investigate, you just want to stop a lot of people and see if you can come up with some statistical number at the end of the evening…” -Testimony of Captain Ron Davis, Oakland Police Department, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)