It is sad to say that, as a society, we have truly failed to move past the issues of race and discrimination that have plagued our nation since long before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Most may agree that we have reached some peaks in the fight for equality and the effort to be one race — the human race — without the necessity for prejudice or judgment. After all, we have definitely come a long way thanks to the guidance, leadership and example of people such as Caesar Chavez, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Ghandi.
But can we honestly say we have completely won the battle against inequality? People’s accounts prove it doubtful.
According to a recent Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (IVDB) report, the United States Congress is looking to approve two bills to require that the U.S. Attorney General study whether racial profiling — targeting individuals because of their skin color — is a national problem among law enforcement agencies.
On the proposing side of the matter, victims of racial profiling have said that police officers pulled them over without clearly specifying the details of the offense for which they were stopped. These individuals also said that the officers in question have made up probable cause for stopping them.
Is there really a problem with police officers discriminating against the same people they serve? Definitely.
Lately, law enforcement officials’ principal of “protecting and serving the public” has more than often been not only questioned, but also greatly ridiculed.
Racial profiling goes beyond the spectrum of more popular law enforcement agencies such as the Los Angeles Police Department and the California Highway Patrol, where some people believe the majority of these incidents occur.
Prejudice and discrimination on the part of several members of law enforcement takes place every day and for any reason (if for any reason at all), and sometimes local police officers also get caught in the dealings.
For example, right next door to the University of La Verne community, in Pomona, law enforcement officials are being investigated under the suspicion that they have been pulling over individuals based on their skin color.
City Council member Willie White said he, too, has been a victim of racial profiling on the part of Pomona Police Department officers.
“Why don’t we go ahead and solve the problem,” White told an IVDB reporter. “I don’t think we need statistics to show us it happens. What we need is to figure out how we get rid of those officers who perpetrate this on our residents.”
The city’s mayor, Fred Sanchez, said he was unaware of the particular incidents in which residents of his community were being targeted by law enforcement officials. Had he been informed prior to White’s own testimony, the mayor said he would have helped spearhead an immediate investigation of the incidents.
Although it may seem that our societal attempts at justice and higher equality have succeeded, sometimes the community protectors we are so often encouraged to trust may also end up being the same individuals who progressively lose our faith by the actions they take.
Granted, most people have a problem with police officers in the first place. No one is exactly thrilled to get caught violating the law, whether the offense be minute or dramatic.
However, it is even more discouraging to hear that police officers-who have a great deal of physical power in the community-take advantage of their power and create doubt among those they are supposed to serve. Racial profiling among law enforcement officials specifically stems from the discrimination and injustice against an individual simply because of his or her skin color.
Though the days in which “For Negroes Only” signs posted above drinking fountains and on park benches are no longer existent, the issues that went along with such physical signs of discrimination are still prevalent. Perhaps the underlying prejudice is no longer concrete, but it exists abstractly in the thoughts and actions of its own society.
Araceli Esparza, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.