Assuming the worst of someone based on their skin color is discrimination. Unfortunately, racial profiling is all too common in Michigan, especially throughout the legal system. Police officers often make wrongful arrests simply because a person is Black. If your child is the victim of racial profiling, contact the Michigan Legal Center. We can launch a thorough investigation into the accusations and inform you of your legal rights. Our attorneys will be there for you during this challenging time.
What Is Racial Profiling?
Racial profiling refers to law enforcement officers who target individuals for stops or arrests because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin and not their behavior. Store employees may also racially profile a customer and follow them around the store or call the cops.
In particular, racial profiling occurs most often during traffic stops. Cops have a great deal of discretion when stopping, arresting, and searching suspects. For example, a police officer may pull over a Black man driving a luxury vehicle on the assumption they stole it. Cops are allowed to use race to identify someone, but it can never be the sole reason for their suspicion.
Are There Laws Prohibiting Racial Profiling?
There are several federal and state laws that prohibit racial profiling by police officers. The United States Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law and protects against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The federal Civil Rights Act also makes it illegal for a government actor, including the police, to discriminate against someone based on their skin color.
How to Protect My Child from Racial Profiling?
There are a few things you may consider teaching your children to keep them safe. As soon as they are old enough to understand, they should know their legal rights. While police can pull them over for a traffic violation, they cannot search them or their vehicle without probable cause of illegal activity. Although this may sound obvious, teach them to follow the law, including following the speed limits. Doing so gives cops less of a reason to pull someone over in the first place.
When interacting with law enforcement, make sure your children know not to argue with them. This may be hard, especially if they think the cops targeted them, but it is better to take an argument to the courtroom. Raising your voice at an officer might make the situation worse.
What to Do After Your Child Is the Victim of Racial Profiling
After a racial profiling incident, there are several steps you can take. For instance, police may have taken your child to jail. If this is the case, post bail and take them home. You will then want to hire a civil rights attorney.
Explain to them that the situation was not their fault. People of color can do everything right when interacting with law enforcement and still end up in handcuffs. Some other steps you can take to help your child include:
- Documenting the situation: They might not want to talk about it, but understanding what happened is crucial. If the incident occurred at a store, see if there is security footage documenting the interaction. Any evidence you can find will be helpful when filing a complaint.
- Filing a complaint: You can file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights within 180 days of an altercation. You can do this online or by calling 1 (800) 482-3604.
- Suggesting they speak to a therapist: Often, trauma victims go into a denial state and rush back into their everyday lives. Trauma does not work like that. Victims may not want to talk to their families about it, but they may feel comfortable speaking to a therapist. It is essential you do not force them into anything, though. Healing from something traumatic will take time, and you should not rush them.
Speak to an Experienced Discrimination Attorney in Michigan
Becuase discrimination violations arise anywhere and at any time, it might be challenging to know where the law falls in your specific situation. That is where the racial profiling attorneys at the Michigan Legal Center come in. Our attorneys have over 20 years of experience fighting for the civil rights of Michigan residents. If you feel your child was the victim of racial discrimination, do not hesitate to contact us. Call (800) 961-8477 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.