Why are people racially profiled?

By: Gerardo Torres Madera

On Tuesday, October 14, 2014 a press conference was held in Chardón building at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. The panelists were Professor Christopher Powers, Attorney José Negrón and Brendan O’Boyle, student at UPRM. The topic of the conference was racial profiling. José Negrón and Gerardo Torres interviewed the panelists. The conference lasted about one hour.

The first question was directed to Professor Christopher Powers. He was asked why racial profiling still takes place in the United States. He mentioned two reasons, “Because the persistence of racism; ant two because power exists.”

Brendan was asked if he had been a victim of racial profiling here in Puerto Rico. He said he has not been profiled by police in the island and he stated “most of them have no desire to talk to me.” This is because racial profiling is mostly toward people of color and Brendan is white with blonde hair and light colored eyes.

Attorney José Negrón, on the other hand, discussed who is more likely to be a victim of racial profiling in Puerto Rico and in the United States. “Here in Puerto Rico, anybody who is not Puertorican.” He added that “racial profiling is not about race, it is also an economic issue.”

Reflecting on the United States case Negrón also commented that racial profiling cases have increased since the 9/11 incident. The attorney also agreed with the professor that among the states with more racial profiling incidents are Maryland, Florida and Georgia.

It is an economic issue because people who belong to the lower class are the ones who are mostly profiled, and as Professor Powers said, power also takes great place in this issue.

One of the most famous recent cases of racial profiling is the case that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, in which a 16 year old African American boy named Michael Brown was shot dead by an officer named Darren Wilson. This case caused a lot of controversy.

Another case that might not be well known is a case about a black man named Earl Sampson that lives in Florida and works at a store named 207 Quickstop. Earl has been stopped by the police a lot of times. An article published in www.nydailynews.com narrates “Earl Sampson, 28, has been stopped by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years, searched more than 100 times, and jailed 56 times at the store where he works for no reason.”

In Asia, Muslims are also being targeted by new policies created by the government. An article published by www.voanews.com proclaims, “Prominent Australian Muslims say their community is being unfairly targeted by law enforcement and threatened by right-wing groups, as the government’s tough new policies aimed at combating radical Islamists threaten to create a backlash.”


From left to right we can appreciate the presence of Professor Christopher Powers, Attorney José Negrón and Brendan O’Boyle.


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