FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2012
Contact: Anika Mitchell Perkins
Dr. James D. Ward gives luncheon speech on racial profiling
COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Dr. James D. Ward, professor of political science at Mississippi University for Women, recently gave a luncheon presentation at the National Academy of Public Administration’s Social Equity Leadership Conference in Savannah, Ga.
The title of Dr. Ward’s talk was “Racial Profiling of African-American Men in Post-911 America: From Law Enforcement Agencies to Neighborhood Watch Patrols.”
According to Dr. Ward’s research, African-Americans continue to be the group most targeted by law enforcement officials and law enforcement surrogates for both vehicle and pedestrian stops, and that African-American men are targeted more so than women. Dr. Ward, who has published several articles in academic journals on racial profiling, believes the regression in efforts on the part of national, state and local governments to reduce racial profiling in the aftermath of 9-11, has contributed to increased levels of profiling of African-Americans. According to Dr. Ward, although the number of groups subjected to racial profiling rose after 9-11, pre 9-11 profiling which was triggered by the 1980s War on Drugs, has continued. This is partly the result, he said, of the continued association of young black males with drug dealers and urban gangs, which results in too many individuals being unfairly stopped based on a crude and general profile.
In addition to citing studies which show that black drivers in some states are seven times more likely to be stopped by police officers than white drivers, Dr. Ward also referenced the recent death and beating of two male black teens at the hands of neighborhood watch patrol volunteers and New York’s “Stop and Frisk” law, which allows police officers to stop any pedestrian who looks suspicious and conduct an on-the-spot search or “frisk.” Research shows that 87 percent of those stopped in 2011 were black or Hispanic.
Proposed federal legislation in 2001 and 2004 would have either made racial profiling illegal or forced all law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to provide statistical data on every person stopped or detained, regardless of whether or not a citation was issued. According to Dr. Ward, because it is now unlikely that Congress will pass anti-racial profiling legislation and because efforts to outlaw racial profiling under federal privacy laws have failed, it will probably take a challenge under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause if opponents of the practice wish to be successful. Dr. Ward provided data compiled by Amnesty International which reveals estimated racial profiling victimization rates based on percent population. According to the data, 47 percent of blacks have been racially profiled, compared to 23 percent of Hispanics, 11 percent of Asians, 19 percent other and 3 percent of whites.
The National Academy of Public Administration is a non-partisan organization chartered by the United States Congress to help public organizations improve their effectiveness. Dr. Ward is an associate member of the organization’s Standing Panel on Social Equity in Governance. The conference took place June 6-8.