By Niomarie González
On October 14, 2014 in Chardón building of the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez three panelists gave a conference about racial profiling in Puerto Rico and United States. The conference was focused on how racial profiling is seen and used by police and people with power. The three panelists, Dr. Christopher Powers, Attorney José Negrón, and a UPRM student Brendan O’Boyle.
Why does racial profiling exists?
Dr. Christopher Powers started the press conference by saying that racial profiling is caused by the abuse of power and that it should be illegal in all the states of the US because it actually is illegal in some states. He affirm that “racial profiling exists because power exists. It’s a technique of social domination.” Powers added that it also is caused by the history of racism and segregation in the United States. African Americans, Latino and Muslims are the more targeted population.
Is racial profiling a problem in Puerto Rico?
“Racial profiling is everywhere” said Attorney José Negrón; it is seen in every part of the world: Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico, among others. In some places racial profiling is legal. That’s when it becomes a problem. It was legalized once in Pennsylvania but it was illegalized again.
Negrón also shared an experience he had. Once in Washington DC he went to a club and the guards wouldn’t let him in because of his Puerto Rican license.
Who is likely to suffer from racial profiling in Puerto Rico?
Brendan says as a joke, “In Puerto Rico everyone who is not Puerto Rican” Puerto Ricans are racist with the people who come from another country, or town. In Puerto Rico the Dominicans are discriminated even though they contribute more to our country than the Puerto Ricans. He also says that racial profiling is not only about skin color or race but economic level too.
How racial profiling contributes to police abuse?
Racial profiling enables and promotes police abuse, there is an implicit permission of brutality in racial profiling. Powers emphasized on a law that says, “you citizens have to go and identify potential illegal aliens in Arizona,” fomenting heat. Hate and racism always go together and they are caused by the abuse of power.
The majority of police officers in the United States are white, so they tend to discriminate the black people of the states they serve. Abuse of power is the first step for violence which in many cases can lead to murder. The Police Department is not taking action when racial profiling occurs. Police brutality and racial profiling have gone together for many occasions and it was seen in the Ferguson case who is the recent case which started this dispute in the United State.
Ferguson case was the recently racial profiling case in the United State. The Ferguson people are still unhappy even though they have been heard and even the media had contributed to this case, nothing has changed. The policeman who shot Micheal Brown will not be charged. The population of Ferguson is 75 percent black. Yet, an irony is that the mayor is white, five of the six cities council members are white and 50 of the 53 police officers are white.
Racism is also seen in the voting process. In the last municipal elections only 12 percent of the voters turned out to vote. As for this the Missouri GOP, Matt Wills, expressed that the voter registration drives are “disgusting” and “inappropriate”. Wills, is behind the new proposed amendments that in contrary of making the voting process better for the Ferguson citizens it makes it even more difficult. According to the Violence Policy Center, the state of Missouri had the highest black homicide rate in 2010 and second highest in 2011.
Two experts on different areas of racial profiling and a student victim of racial profiling compose the conference panelists. Christopher Powers, first from the left, José Negrón, second from the left, and Brendan O’Boyle, third to the left.