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More than ten years of Monitoring and Oakland Police is Still Show Racial Bias

Posted by Seth Chazin | Aug 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

According to the latest report, Oakland police are still showing signs of racial prejudice in enforcement after more than ten years of federal monitoring. Officers were much more likely to stop and search African Americans than other ethnicities, and were found suspicious more often than other ethnicities.

The report noted that the Oakland Police stopped 15, 407 vehicles between mid-November and mid-May. African-Americans were behind the wheel 57 percent of the time, while Latinos were at 21 percent, and Caucasians were at 11 percent.

According to the 2010 census, Oakland's population was made up of 28 percent African American, 34.5 percent Caucasian and 25.4 percent Latino.

The report also found that police were prone to search African American drivers and their vehicles on 28 percent of their stops, compared to the 5 percent for Caucasians and 14 percent for Latinos.  As for pedestrian stops, African Americans were searched 48 percent of the time, Caucasians 21 percent of the time and Latinos 34 percent of the time. The searches reported were only searches officers chose to conduct, at their discretion, and did not include searches required by law when a suspect was being arrested, or carrying a weapon.

Some of the disparity in search rates can be attributed to the fact that African Americans were more likely than Caucasians to be on probation or parole, and thus subject to random police searches without suspicion. The  numbers presented still suggest some racial bias in enforcement.

These numbers are not much different from other police departments. For example, the San Francisco Police Department showed similar disparities in searches of both African Americans and Latino Drivers, compared to Caucasians, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle that looked at three years of police records.

Police say that factors including where they patrol and the demographics of criminal suspects are at the root of those racial disparities, but many social science advocates believe they signal racial prejudice.

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 30 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson