In a telephone interview with Black Politics On the Web and the Milwaukee Journal about felon disenfranchisement, I explained that “The color of your skin changes how you’re charged, how you’re convicted and in a felony case, how your voting rights are lost.” In the felon disenfranchisement case, I asked the court to dismiss the charges since disenfranchisement was designed to prevent freed slaves from voting. I cited several studies that have concluded blacks are more frequently arrested and incarcerated than whites in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Therefore, the state’s voting ban violates constitutional amendments that guarantee equal protection for minorities and prohibit race-based voting rights.
Likewise, I was also aware that a black Milwaukee driver is seven times as likely to be stopped by city police as a white resident driver. The real problem in racially based stops is that discriminatory behavior on the part of police and elsewhere in the criminal justice system may contribute to blacks’ high representation in arrests, convictions, and prison admissions…Changing America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being by Race and Hispanic Origin(Council of Economic Advisors For the President’s Initiative on Race, September, 1998) 57. “This insidious cycle has served to create an ever-widing gap in the perception of fairness that persons of color and whites have about law enforcement and the criminal justice system…[U]sing profiles that rely on racial or ethnic stereotypes is no better, and in many respects is far worse, than allowing individual officers to rely on inchoate and unparticularized suspicions or hunches.” Interim Report of the State Police Review Team Regarding Allegations of Racial Profiling, (April 20, 1999), p. 70-72.
For that reason, I filed the first racial profiling challenge In Milwaukee County years ago.
Now, finally a court is acknowledging these truths.
Citing disproportionate stops of black men by Boston police, the Massachusetts top court declared that black males may have a legitimate reason to flee from police officers.
“Such an individual, when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity,” the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court wrote in an opinion made public Tuesday. “Rather, the finding that black males in Boston are disproportionately and repeatedly targeted…suggests a reason for flight totally unrelated to consciousness of guilt.”
The decision vacated the conviction of Jimmy Warren, an African-American man convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm in Roxbury in December 2011. Warren, walking with another man near a park, fled from police who were then investigating a reported robbery nearby. He was apprehended, and police soon recovered an unlicensed .22 caliber handgun in a yard nearby that Warren had run through.