Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Was it Racial Profiling? Yes!

Community groups join together in a boycott of "The Taste of Cincinnati Festival," a city cultural event held on May 26, 2001. The groups were protesting the fatal shooting of Timothy Thomas on April 7th
“One day Tim came in the house, and he was like, ‘Mom, I got two tickets… it's like two tickets, Mom, for the same thing." Later on that same day he got two more tickets for the same things, in the same area, from different police officers.”

Dateline obtained traffic records that show beginning in February of 2000, as Timothy Thomas drove his friend's car, Cincinnati police began pulling him over, and ticketing him at an astounding rate. On March 10, Thomas is ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt and driving without a license. Later that same day, Thomas is pulled over again by a different officerand ticketed for driving without a license.

In fact, in just more than two months, Thomas was pulled over 11 times by six different white officers and four black officers. They cited Thomas for 21 violations, almost all of them for the exact same things -- not wearing a seat belt or driving without a license. Driving without a license is a criminal offense and can be dangerous -- which is why the law requires people to take a test to get their licenseWhile it is clear that Thomas broke the law, repeatedly driving without a license, the reason his tickets may be an indication of something larger is this: Driving without a license is a non-moving violation that police can only detect after they've pulled you over, It's not a moving violation, like running a red light, something police can see as you drive by. And driving without a seat belt is an infraction police must look very closely to spot. So the question is, if Thomas was being ticketed for infractions that were impossible or difficult to see, why was he being pulled over in the first place?.

Legally, police must have a justifiable reason to pull someone over. The officer who tried to stop Thomas the night he was shot said he recognized him after ticketing the young man a year earlier. Dateline asked Roger Webster, who was then the head of the Cincinnati Police Union, why he thought Thomas had been pulled over and given so many non-moving violations.

Had 10 different officers all really just been nice guys, pulling Thomas over for running a stop sign or speeding, but only once issuing him a moving violation, or was something else going on?

“Was this guy being profiled in some way?”

1 comment:

  1. I was wearing a Metallica T-Shirt and jeans waiting for a bus on the edge of a ghettoesque neighborhood in a California Metropolis. Two cops b lined to me and asked me if they could look into my purse since I fit the description of someone they were looking for. I obliged them, and they realized that I wasn't holding any drugs, so they let me catch my bus. I looked at their badges and commented on how it was a violation of my rights, but seeing that I had nothing to reveal to them like some hidden nuclear bomb in my bag...I showed them my family pics out of my wallet and they shook their heads as if they found Mrs Beaver Cleaver in a rock t-shirt. Too bad suckas! Not this time!