In Michigan, racial profiling refers to discrimination in criminal investigations and actions of law enforcement. Racial profiling occurs when a law enforcement officer targets any individual with suspicion they’ve committed a crime based on their ethnicity, skin color, apparent religion, or nationality. Racial profiling could be as simple as a traffic stop based on an officer’s observation of a driver’s skin color or ethnicity. Another common example of racial profiling includes using race to determine whether or not any type of illegal materials could be suspected as present in a vehicle’s trunk or glove compartment.
Targeting Muslims and Arabs
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), some law enforcement officers have persistently targeted Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians for immigration and other legal violations. This is because they believe they are connected in some way to the “War on Terror” or September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
Who Are Law Enforcement Agents?
A law enforcement agent does not have to be a sworn police officer or sheriff. They could also be a security guard, private police officer, investigator or other individual assigned to guard a specific location or monitor activity in a public location. A department store security guard is regarded as a law enforcement officer. Depending on the situation, an airline pilot or rail security officer can be a law enforcement officer.
Criteria for Racial Profiling
The ACLU urges people to be cautious about defining racial or religious profiling as an action “solely” based on racial or ethnic criteria. The pattern arises when a disproportionate number of people of racially-profiled ethnicities are targeted for any type of law enforcement action. Some common terms for these actions include “Shopping while black or brown,” “walking while black or brown,” and “driving while black or brown,” according to the ACLU.
In 2001, the ACLU filed a successful lawsuit on behalf of 21 African American bicyclists who argued they were wrongfully stopped for bicycling through the suburb of Eastpointe, Michigan. The young men were detained, searched, and some had their bicycles impounded. Police logs and reports identified many similar cases, and the police chief had written a memorandum instructing officers to investigate any black youth riding through the area on bicycles. This case defined racial profiling of “bicycling while black or brown.”
If you or someone you know has been the victim of racial profiling, we urge that you seek justice for your unfortunate experience. The racial profiling attorneys at Michigan Legal Center have experience representing the people of Michigan and helping them fight to protect their civil liberties. Do not suffer alone. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to discuss your options in pursuing legal action.