Racial Profiling: A Serious Issue

By Ashlene Lebrón

Racial profiling was discussed on October 14, 2014 at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (UPRM) during a press conference held in the Chardón building. Three panelists provided insight on the subject and argued that racial profiling has always existed, even if people define it differently.

The panelists were Dr. Christopher Powers, Attorney José Negrón and UPRM student Brendan O’Boyle.

Dr. Powers, who has a doctorate in comparative literature and is a professor at UPRM, began this intervention saying that racial profiling occurs around the world and not only in the United States. He defined racial profiling as tool utilized by people to gain power and control around the world.

“The idea of racial profiling is racist,” said Dr. Powers, who added that assuming that there is something to classify is racist because race is just a human invention.

Attorney Jose Negrón, who has Ph.D. in law, adds that the media has influenced all of these altercations because they have “force fed stereotypes” on viewers. Similar to Dr. Powers, Negrón argued that racial profiling would never stop.

He also asserted that many fall into this type of cruelty because they are not aware of their rights because they don’t sit down to orient themselves. “My rights end where yours begin,” he refuted.

Student Brendan O’Boyle, who is originally from Michigan, noted that he has been discriminated in Puerto Rico due to ignorance. He argued that and a way stop this is through education.

O’Boyle discussed how education can create a self-aware human being. He says that our job as students is to educate our family and friends to inform them of events and knowledge we receive through our classes, unlike the other two panelists.

All panelists agreed that it is clear that racism exists in the police force and occurs around the world. It might be a consequence of the lack of discipline and uncaring nature in the structuring of these police officers, Negrón argued. In his view, some of these officers don’t care about the laws or the ethics.

Nevertheless, racial profiling occurs around the world, like Dr. Powers mentioned. For example, in the United Kingdom, on September 27, 2014 three Asian men were assaulted, ages 34-54 after they had attended a nearby event at a local church. It was reported that the assaulter who had punched them was in his late 30s.

Then they are victims who do know their rights, but some officers ignore this. Earlier this year a man had been tasered by police officers with a stun gun in front of a daycare center.

The victim’s name is Chris Lollie, who is an African-American man living in St. Paul, Minnesota. He filmed the whole encounter and decided to publish it on August 26, 2014. In this video, he was screaming for help and asking police officers why he was being arrested.


“The Panelists”

From left to right panelists Dr. Christopher Powers, Attorney José Negrón and UPRM student Brendan O’Boyle.


The students who hosted the press conference accompanied by their panelists and professor.

Standing up from left to right Gerardo Torres, José Lebrón, David Veléz, Jonathan Negrón, Ashlene Lebrón, Niomarie González, Alejandro Silva and Jocelyn Géliga.

Sitting down from left to right we have Dr. Powers, Att. Negròn and student Brendan O’Boyle.


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