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COMMENTARY: Racial profiling remains a daily dilemma for LAPD New report cites evidence of police bias

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Whites are caught with illegal drugs more often. However, according to the new analysis, Whites were more likely to be found with drugs, weapons and other illicit articles, at 20 percent of all searches, whereas Blacks were only at 17 percent and Latinx at 16 percent. The count included both pat-down and vehicle searches. The “Brothers, Sons, Selves” coalition’s manager, David Turner, remembered when his father told him to fear the cops, but didn’t understand why until an officer held a gun to him during a random traffic stop.

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By Isabell Rivera, OW Contributor

Although crime in Los Angeles has somewhat decreased over the years, certain areas—such as South Los Angeles—have witnessed an increase. And with high crime comes high police activity.

The issue

Since racial diversity between Whites and persons of color is practically non-existent in certain neighborhoods, the targets of police detainments/arrests are mostly people of color. Being at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and wearing the wrong colored clothes, or just being in the car, waiting for the traffic light to switch, or having broken headlights, might all be reasons to be stopped by the police. However, the color of someone’s skin might just be enough of a reason to look like a suspect.

According to a new LA Times analysis, more than 20 percent of vehicle stops that involved African Americans were for equipment violation, such as a broken taillight or tinted windows were the reasons, compared to 11 percent of Whites who were stopped. Those types of violations can serve as a motive for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to look for more that isn’t as obvious at first glance. Those so-called “pre-textual traffic stops” are legal but are taken with a grain of salt; since critics say that it gives law enforcement too much freedom to decide based on instinct versus evidence.

Metro Division under scrutiny

One division of the LAPD has been under scrutiny: the elite Metropolitan (Metro) division. They are trained to perform various tasks in regard to diverse crime-fighting duties, such as surveillance, counter terrorism, as well as crowd control. Recently, they’ve been assisting the South Bureau to help fight crimes associated with gangs and drugs.

“We’re trying to stop drive-by shootings,” Capt. Jonathan Tippet of Metro told the LA Times. “If we’re not here, it’s going to have a negative impact and allow people to go back to committing crime. If we’re not here to keep the peace, we’re going to have bloodshed.”

The problem is that the “stop-and-frisk” procedures mostly happen to people of color. In a city that is just 9 percent Black, 49 percent of the drivers stopped by the Metro division were Black.

“African-Americans were not the quote-unquote target. And that’s my concern with the data point and how it’s being interpreted — that we just went out looking for African Americans,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said. “That’s not what crime suppression was involved in.”

Statistics of other races that were stopped by Metro: Latinx at 44 percent, account for 49 percent of the city’s population. Whites on the other hand, accounted for less than 4 percent of the drivers stopped but are 28-percent city population.

Whites are caught with illegal drugs more often. However, according to the new analysis, Whites were more likely to be found with drugs, weapons and other illicit articles, at 20 percent of all searches, whereas Blacks were only at 17 percent and Latinx at 16 percent. The count included both pat-down and vehicle searches. The “Brothers, Sons, Selves” coalition’s manager, David Turner, remembered when his father told him to fear the cops, but didn’t understand why until an officer held a gun to him during a random traffic stop.

“We’re watching all these movies, all these things that glorify law enforcement, we’re thinking they’re cool, but my dad [told me] ‘We need to be afraid,’” Turner said in an interview. “This is because of the things he experienced here as a Black man in Los Angeles. That trauma he had, he passed to my sister and I.”

According to the LA Times, the LAPD’s former constitutional policing advisor, Arif Alikhan, said that the conducted analysis doesn’t account for the difficulties a police officer has in gauging the situation.

“We don’t pull people over based on race. We’re not supposed to do that,” Alikhan said. “It’s illegal. It’s unconstitutional. And that’s not the basis [on which] we do it.”

Alberto Retana, president of Community Coalition, wasn’t surprised by the data, and gave a statement on behalf of the social justice coalition PUSH-LA, which stands for Promoting Unity Safety & Health Los Angeles, that advocates to reform policing.

“To communities of color across Los Angeles, the article’s data is unfortunately unsurprising and verifies what we know to be true about the racial profiling happening by the LAPD. These vehicle searches are just the tip of the iceberg as the LAPD also has a long track record of aggressively searching the homes and schools of people of color,”
Retana said. “This clear evidence of racial profiling has many harmful implications for Black and Brown families, including emotional and material impact when they get unjustly tangled in the mass incarceration system.

Activists demand ‘real reform’

“The LAPD’s response that they don’t pull over and search people based on race should be met with heavy skepticism, especially given that of the 385,000 stops analyzed by the Times report, three quarters of them involved Black and Latinx people,” Retana continued. “Our community members in South LA and other overpoliced communities are terrified of the police and don’t feel protected or served. We want real reform and
the PUSH LA ‘Reimagine Protect and Serve’ coalition will be sending a letter to Mayor Garcetti and Chief Moore with three key demands.”

The purpose

The first mission that’s on the LAPD’s agenda is the prevention of crime—especially gang-related crimes. In 2015, Mayor Garcetti and then-Chief Charlie Beck executed the “traffic stop and search” method to combat gang violence – mostly shootings – in South LA.

And since most gangs in South LA are Black, people of color become a target automatically. However, Metro said, it’s hard to determine what skin color the drivers have when it’s dark outside and the division only stops drivers if there is a reason for it, such as paper license plates, parking violations or broken headlights. However, if the colors of their clothing indicate gang association, they’ll continue to search the vehicle and passengers for weapons and drugs.

It’s a fine line between following procedures and following instinct, but because the Metro Division has been scrutinized just like the New York City Police Department (NYPD) a few years back when they introduced the stop-and-frisk, Mayor Eric Garcetti wanted to pull them back completely, which resulted in fear in the South Bureau that
crimes will rise – which they did. Shootings in South LA have increased, even before the fatal shooting of rapper Nipsey Hussle (Ermias Asghedom). According to news outlets, the month of March accounted for 26 shootings and 10 homicides.

‘Picking up the pieces’

“That’s 36 families left picking up the pieces,” Moore said via Twitter. “We will work aggressively with our community to quell this senseless loss of life.”

The “stop-and-frisk” tactics in New York City resulted in 50.6 percent of Blacks being stopped, although Blacks only accounted for 25.6 percent of the city’s population. The Latinx population of New York City accounts for 23.7 percent but 33 percent of Hispanics were stopped. Again, Whites had the lowest percentage: accounting for 43.4 percent of the city’s population, yet only 12.9 percent of those who were stopped randomly, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The “stop-and-frisk” procedures have since been reduced, as a result of a federal lawsuit in 2013, which former federal court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled to be unconstitutional.” Scheindlin said in an interview that those tactics weren’t effective and that didn’t stop crime.

Deputy Chief Dennis Kato said in an interview that Metro officers stop a large number of Black drivers because many violent crime suspects are Black, the LA Times reported.

Kato told the LA Times that if Black gangs are involved, Metro officers will use traffic violations to stop, “African-American males ages 16 to 24 who dress or look like gang members.”

Social Biases

When it comes to racial profiling—although most of this might just be subconscious—it is deeply embedded in most of society and has something to do with the fact of how people have been raised.

According to researchers at the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, racial bias forms in infancy. Studies found that infants as young as six months old feel more comfortable around the same race if being overwhelmingly exposed, and therefore favor people who look like them. However, the studies also point out that infants who are exposed to people who look different, develop deep-rooted discomfort.

According to the ACLU, in a study conducted by the University of California and the University of Chicago that “recreated the experience of a police officer confronted with a ‘potentially’ dangerous suspect,” the results were interesting.

In the study, “participants fired on an armed target more quickly when the target was African American than White and decided not to shoot an unarmed target more quickly when the target was White than when African-American. Participants failed to shoot an armed target more often when that target was White than when the target was
African American. If the target was unarmed, participants mistakenly shot the target more often when African American than when White. Shooting bias was greater among participants who held a strong cultural stereotype of African Americans as aggressive, violent, and dangerous.”

Chief Moore responds

“There is a conversation… that the current presentation of data we are talking about is having a terribly corrosive effect on people of color, particularly African-Americans, and that concerns me as a chief,” Moore said. “I hear and feel the trauma this has reignited,
the injury, the concern that somehow [the] LAPD is slipping back into its old ways.”

Retana and Moore met in March to discuss the removal of Metro. “What we’re finding is that African-American residents are afraid of police officers, and that break of trust undermines public safety,” Retana said, as the LA Times reported.

Regardless of crime prevention resulting from the “stop-and-frisk” procedures in South LA, for many Blacks who reside there insist that “driving while Black” is a grim reality confirmed by statistics.

“Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime — preventive detention or coerced confession, for example—but because they are unconstitutional, they cannot be used, no matter how effective,” Scheindlin said in the plaintiff against New York City, in the 2013 lawsuit.

Change in sight

After the LA Times investigated and reported that the random traffic stops performed by Metro were considered “bias” at most, the LAPD said to cut back.

Moore issued a statement and told the Times the vehicle stops performed by Metro were not proven successful, accounting for one arrest per 100 cars stopped, as it was adding more stress and tension to drivers who felt like being selected depending on their race.

Officers of the Metro Division, who number approximately 200, will focus on wanted suspects for violent offenses instead, and use other methods besides traffic stops to make arrests.

The new changes will take place in late November of 2019 and were directed by community leaders who criticized the Metro Division’s “stop and search” methods.

Retana told the LA Times that the stop and search methods by the LAPD have caused quite the distress on the Black and Latinx community in South LA.

“These changes to Metro’s policing style in South Los Angeles vindicate what our community has been saying all along about the highly imbalanced use of pre-textual stops on Black and Brown people,” said Retana, on behalf of PUSH LA coalition.” We need to ensure that there’s proof that the stops by Metro are in fact ending, which means
the LAPD must be transparent in its release of real data in regular reports.”

‘Reimagine Protect & Serve’

In 2017, the number of cars stopped and searched by Metro rose from a few thousand cars prior to 63,000, which are about 12 percent of all LAPD traffic stops.

Opponents of the LAPD, and its divisions, criticized Metro saying it reminds of the crucial times of the past where the police targeted mostly minorities.

Moore said in a statement regarding the Times’ analysis that it didn’t cover all aspects, but that the report raised concerns he will take a closer look at.

“We’re aware that the disparate impact on communities of color, particularly in South Los Angeles, raises concerns about trust and confidence that this is a department that’s sensitive to what our interaction with them are,” he said. “I think…what traffic stops
represent is a small area of what our work is. Our work is in many different fronts in regard to public safety, including prevention and intervention efforts.”

Community Coalition, ACLU work in tandem Since the ACLU and CoCo were among the only local social justice organizations that demanded Mayor Garcetti to pull Metro back from South LA completely, or at least cut back on random traffic stops and searches, vehicle stops have been down by 11 percent by all LAPD officers in comparison to the same period last year. In a statement issued by Garcetti to the Times, he said, “I look
forward to our Police Commission and department leaders using this information to improve best practices, and I expect the department to work consciously and evenhandedly to earn the trust of every Angeleno, every day, with every interaction.”

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FILM: Top 10 Must-See Black documentaries

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From “I Am Not Your Negro” to “High on the Hog,” each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.
The post FILM: Top 10 Must-See Black documentaries first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By The Houston Defender | Word in Black

The AFRO’s October Special Edition is all about the roots of our culture, our family lineage and the return to old ways and traditions. Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by our Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From I Am Not Your Negro to High on the Hog, each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.

#10: Attica (2021) 

In September 1971, Attica Prison became the location of one of the largest prison riots in US history, taking place just weeks after revolutionary activist George Jackson was murdered by prison guards at Rikers Island, an act that initiated the birth of Black August and the prison reform movement. The constant abject cruelty and inhumane treatment doled out to the incarcerated (who were overwhelmingly Black and Latinx) by Attica guards (all White) created the context. The riot itself, and its aftermath, are something all human beings should be required to reckon with.

#9: Quincy (2018) 

If you’re Black, it literally doesn’t matter when you were born, what generation you’re a part of, or where you’re from. You’ve been impacted by the genius of Quincy Jones. We’ve all been influenced by the genius of Quincy Jones. The music he made, the albums he produced, the artists he developed, the movies he scored, and about a gazillion other things Jones did, means, as I’ve already said, if you’re Black, Quincy has had a hand in your life. Don’t believe me. What Black person do you know who isn’t a Michael Jackson fan, who hasn’t seen The Wiz, or who doesn’t have a family member who worships jazz music? Quincy Jones had his hand in all that and so much more. Directed by one of his daughters, actress Rashida Jones, this doc is most definitely a must see.

#8: Four Little Girls (1997) 

On Sept. 15, 1963, just 18 short days after the much-celebrated March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed by four members of a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated racist group. Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, four African American girls between the ages of 11 and 14 who had been attending the church’s Sunday school, were killed in the blast, an act of White domestic terrorism that served as a horrific and sober reminder that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not enough to end the hold the myth of White supremacy had on so many. Director Spike Lee tells this powerfully compelling and important story as only he can.

#7: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (2019) 

For generations that came after the Baby Boomers, it’s hard for us to fully fathom how big a star Sam Cooke was. Think of the biggest singer of any generation. That was Sam Cooke in his heyday. And not only was he hyper-talented, but not only did he call some of the biggest names in Black history his personal friends (Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X just to name a few), Cooke was a man of the people. And he was heavily invested in the Civil Rights Movement and an advocate for Black self-determination and Black ownership. Cooke even pulled a “Prince” long before Prince—gaining ownership of his own music, something that was as rare then as it is today. This documentary chronicles Cooke’s life, rise to fame, and eventual end, though his influence never died.

#6: Thunder Soul (2010) 

Here’s a hometown entry. Thunder Soul spotlights the extraordinary alumni from Houston’s storied Kashmere High School Stage Band which the iconic Conrad Johnson led. These alums return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for the 92-year-old ‘Prof’, their beloved band leader who transformed the schools struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s. This one will have you out of your seat and dancing in the streets. Check it out.

#5: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America (2021)  

In this documentary, criminal defense/civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson “draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.” It’s that simple, and yet that complex. And it goes without saying; it’s a must see.

#4: Jeen-Yuhs (2022) 

No matter where you score on the Love Ye / Hate Ye scale, this 2022 documentary about his rise to superstardom is beyond compelling. I mean, who thinks to chronicle their every move from the moment they start pursuing their dream until they either give up on it or see it to fruition and beyond? Who does that? No one but this negro Kanye. He may be the only human being with an ego big enough to conceive of such a project. And believe me, the scope and scale of this documentary match that galaxy-sized self-obsession brahman has that make him both insanely talented and just plain insane at the same time.

#3: I Am Not Your Negro (2016) 

This documentary by Raoul Peck, director of Exterminate All the Brutes (2021) which made the first list of must-see documentaries, introduced the brilliance and unabashed Black of James Baldwin to a whole new generation. Described as a work that imagines the completion of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House (about Baldwin’s personal reflections on and recollections of three of his personal friends who were killed during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), I Am Not Your Negro is about so much more.

#2: The Last Dance (2020) 

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to get caught up in the chronicling of the last run at an NBA championship by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls who had been told before the season began that the team would be broken up. The doc not only takes you on that 1996 Bulls’ championship ride, but it also digs deep into the past of players, coaches, and family members, spotlighting triumphs and tragedies that are part of the human story, not just the story of professional athletes.

#1: High on the Hog 

How African American Cuisine Transformed America (2021)

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for anything that celebrates our history, especially those things that connect us to our African roots and our Pan-African family. This documentary does all that and more. Because the main character is food. Our food. The stuff we grew up on. The meals many of us are eating right now, and never stopped eating since our youth. This beautifully filmed, beautifully narrated piece of art is full of both the familiar and the foreign; or rather, things we’ve come to believe are foreign to us, but are really part of our story and our heritage. And the okra on top? High on the Hog has a powerful H-Town connection. A few, in fact.

This list of documentaries based on the roots of African American culture was compiled by Word In Black.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades

NNPA NEWSWIRE — According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.
The post Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Black Information Network | Atlanta Daily World

A new lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) alleges that the U.S. government discriminated against Black veterans for decades.

On Monday (November 28), the suit was filed by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) on behalf of Vietnam War veteran Conley Monk Jr, whose applications for education, housing, and disability benefits have been denied since he returned home from the war, per The Hill.

According to the suit, discrimination by the VA has left Black veterans without benefits more frequently than their white counterparts.

Yale’s VLSC said the lawsuit could “provide a legal pathway for Black veterans to seek reparations from the VA.”

“This lawsuit seeks to hold the VA accountable for years of discriminatory conduct,” Adam Henderson, a law student working with the VLSC on the case, said in a statement, per the Hill.

“VA leaders knew, or should have known, that they were administering benefits in a discriminatory manner, yet they failed to address this unlawful bias,” Henderson added. “Mr. Monk — and thousands of Black veterans like him — deserve redress for the harms caused by these negligently administered programs.”

According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.

VA press secretary Terrence Hayes said the agency is working to combat “institutional racism.”

“Throughout history, there have been unacceptable disparities in both VA benefits decisions and military discharge status due to racism, which have wrongly left Black veterans without access to VA care and benefits,” Hayes said. “We are actively working to right these wrongs.”

The post U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans For Decades: Lawsuit appeared first on Atlanta Daily World.

The post Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together, when Bennet gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday.
The post BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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‘A Basketball Hero is Born’ is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which aims to inspire youth to make a positive change in their communities and the world in general

Widely celebrated African American author, Jerald LeVon Hoover, is once again inspiring young people to make a positive change in their communities with the launch of a new children’s book. Titled A Basketball Hero is Born, the new children’s reading book contains colorful pictures that warm the heart and keep young readers glued to its pages.

The plot follows the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson who gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday. Affectionately naming the new basketball “Lucky,” the story unfolds as young Bennett tries to take his new best friend everywhere, including the dinner table, to school, and to bed when it is time for sleep.

Jerald L. Hoover

Jerald L. Hoover

Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into Bennett’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together. Currently available for purchase on Amazon, A Basketball Hero is Born is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which emphasizes instilling a love of sports and friendship in young readers.

About The Author

Jerald L. Hoover is a multi-talented individual with countless accomplishments in the creative, literary, and entertainment worlds. After winning an award for “The Best New Male Writer of the Year” for his fictional novel, My Friend, My Hero Jerald went on to be listed from 1994 – 1996 as a best-selling author among young Black writers in various African American publications. In 1995, he was awarded the Writers Corp Award by then-President Bill Clinton. In 1998, Jerald was inducted into the Mount Vernon Boy’s and Girl’s Club Hall of Fame. Since then, Jerald has won several other awards and is also an in-demand motivational speaker who overcame a childhood speech impediment.

The post BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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