Photo by No Borders and Binaries/Flickr (Creative Commons)
During what's been billed as a landmark Senate hearing tomorrow, lawmakers will address racial profiling in different forms, from the profiling of Latinos under state anti-illegal immigration laws to the police profiling of black men, as well as the racial profiling that has affected Muslims, Arab Americans and others in the U.S. during a decade of counter-terrorism activity since 9/11.
A highlight of the hearing will be a bill called the End Racial Profiling Act, which has come and gone since 2001 without passage and was most recently reintroduced last year. Its principal aim is to curb profiling by law enforcement, establishing a definition for what racial profiling is, prohibiting it, and establishing a set of policies and checks and balances to prevent it.
From the bill, also known as S. 1670, the definition:
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Los Angeles' chief of police is less than gung-ho about a controversial immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities, a federal fingerprint-sharing program that has drawn complaints from some law enforcement and state officials, while it is embraced by others.
During a radio interview yesterday with KPCC's Patt Morrison, the Los Angeles Police Department's Chief Charlie Beck expressed some of the same concerns that more vocal critics of the program have voiced, among them Sheriff Michael Hennessey of San Francisco. An excerpt from the Beck interview:
The thing that the San Francisco sheriff worries about, and that many people in Los Angeles worry about, is that it causes a huge divide between a large portion of our population. Because whether people agree with it or not, a large portion of L.A.'s population are immigrants, and many of them are undocumented.
So it tends to cause a divide there where there’s a lack of trust, a lack of reporting, a lack of cooperation with police. You know, I cannot prosecute crimes without witnesses...
Photo by Neon Tommy/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Protesters at a rally last year after the police shooting of day laborer Manuel Jamines, September 10, 2010
The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruled yesterday regarding last year's fatal police shooting of day laborer Manuel Jamines, backing the department's position that the officer's decision to shoot the Guatemalan immigrant was not out of line. The shooting in the Westlake district, which took place in September, triggered violent street protests in the days that followed.
Jamines, who was 37, was shot by department veteran Frank Hernandez, who fired two shots. Some witnesses described Jamines as intoxicated and waving a knife at passersby and later at police; other witnesses said that Jamines, who spoke a Mayan dialect, dropped the knife before the officer fired. Hernandez had been involved in previous shootings.
Since announced, the ruling has generated a small protest, a fair amount of media coverage, and various reactions online. A post on KPCC's Facebook page today asked the question, "Do you think officer Frank Hernandez was justified in shooting Guatemalan day laborer Manuel Jamines?"
It's been 20 years today since the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, an incident captured on grainy video by George Holliday, a resident of Lake View Terrace who heard the commotion and captured the beating from his balcony.
The videotape, and the riots that followed in late April after four white officers accused in the beating were acquitted, tore the lid off long-simmering racial and socioeconomic tensions in South Los Angeles and other working-class sections of the city. It also created a national conversation about the treatment of minority groups at the hands of authorities.
Just about every news outlet today has a take on the 20th anniversary of the beating, ranging from interviews with King, who suffered serious injuries and later sued, to explorations of how police conduct business in an era where cameras are omnipresent. A sampling: