Saturday, November 25, 2006

Watts Riot Started After CHP Officer's DUI Stop And Batton Hit On African American

This is a point of fact worth noting for history. Read this post from "White Privlege":

excerpt from “40th Anniversary of Watts,”, 8/11/05

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Watts uprising in Los Angeles. A white California Highway Patrol officer named Lee Minikus pulled over 21(twenty-one) year-old Marquette Frye, who was black, on suspicion of drunk driving. Frye had been driving in the car with his brother and additional officers were soon called to the scene. Rena Frye, the mother of the two boys showed up as well and eventually all three members of the Frye family were arrested. As the officers questioned them, the police hit the brothers with their baton. The crowd grew increasingly angry and a confrontation began that led to six days of rioting leaving 34 people dead, 1000 wounded and 4000 people arrested. The Watts uprising sheparded in a new more militant era of the civil rights movement as African-Americans took to the streets in a mass protest against white economic exploitation and police brutality. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was formed in Oakland, California less then a year after the rebellion. Yesterday, a report was presented to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police chief William Bratton by the Los Angeles Urban League and the United Way titled “The State of Black Los Angeles.” The report found that, 40 years after Watts, African-Americans continue to face many of the same conditions they faced in LA forty years ago. They point to the fact that in L.A, African Americans still have the lowest household income in the city, are far more likely to go prison and are searched by the Los Angeles Police Department at four times the rate of whites.

It's really sad to see that over 40 years the relationship between CHP and Blacks and in this case other law enforcement organizations, has not really changed. Remember, the CHP was the target of a successful racial profiling lawsuit in 2003.

California Highway Patrol Bans Consent Searches, But Still May Do Them?

This article below and linked to claims that the CHP bans consent searches, but other not-for-attribution accounts claim that they have actually not banned this practice at all and in some cases do these searches without the knoweldge of the suspect.

As the ban of this action was at the center of the CHP's settlement in its racial profiling lawsuit, for them to actually maintain this practice is a violation of that settlement.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- The California Highway Patrol's commissioner ordered a ban on some car searches Thursday, a move that civil liberties groups say is a tacit admission that officers single out minority drivers for unfair treatment, the Associated Press reported. According to the AP, CHP Commissioner D.O. "Spike" Helmick ordered a six-month moratorium on "consent searches," which officers can conduct only if they receive permission from a driver.

Officers will still search a car if they have probable cause that it was involved in a crime.

Helmick said the moratorium does not reflect any concern that CHP officers target minority drivers.

"Our people clearly do not racially profile," Helmick said. "I think we treat people fairly. We're just trying to be sure."

A team of CHP managers recommended the ban after a review of search data from last July through March, he said. State police began collecting the search data in February 1999 in response to complaints that officers stop and search Latinos and African Americans more often than whites.

Helmick said a preliminary review of the data showed that CHP officers had conducted 1,370 consent searches since July, "a very small number when you look at the almost 3 million traffic stops we make each year."

He said he decided to order the moratorium while analyzing the data because "I simply said, 'I want to know what . . . is going on.' "

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California says it knows what's going on: The group has brought a lawsuit in United States District Court alleging racial profiling by state troopers around San Jose.

The ACLU is focusing on CHP drug task force officers. The group has interpreted data the CHP handed over as part of its case to show that drug officers search Latinos and blacks at far greater rates in some highway corridors.

In a court filing, the ACLU said that after being stopped, Latinos were nearly four times more likely to be searched than whites in the central coast area that includes U.S. 101, and that blacks were more than twice as likely to be searched. The ACLU said CHP data show similar rates in a Central Valley area that includes Interstate 5.

"The drug interdiction officers have the most severe rates of racial profiling," said ACLU lawyer Michelle Alexander.

"Officers are encouraged to use minor traffic violations to stop motorists and then get consent to search their cars for drugs. . . . They're operating on a hunch, on a guess, on a stereotype," said Alexander, who is the head of the ACLU of Northern California's Racial Justice Project.

The ACLU has argued similar search cases against highway officers in other states, including Illinois, New Jersey and Maryland.

"I do not agree with their numbers, but I am not going to try that court case out of court," Helmick said. "They're wrong, they're dead wrong. And I'd be more than happy to prove it."