The Los Angeles Times used traffic stop data released by the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) under a new California law to calculate racial breakdowns of stops. The newspaper found that blacks and Latinos had a much higher chance of being pulled over than whites, although more drugs and weapons have been found on white motorists. The racial disparity has led to Promoting Unity Safety and Health in Los Angeles (“PUSH LA”) to call for a moratorium on pretextual stops and financial compensation for those unlawfully stopped and searched.
The population of LA is roughly 47 percent Latino, 27 percent white, 11 percent Asian, and 9 percent black. The Times analyzed 385,000 traffic stops between July 2018 and April 2019 and found that blacks represented 27 percent of drivers pulled over, Asians 4 percent, Latinos 47 percent, and whites 18 percent.
Equipment violations accounted for 20 percent of stops for blacks and Latinos but only 11 percent for whites. Activists are concerned that these kind of stops are conducted as an excuse for police to search and harass people of color.
Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, said, “These stops lead to the deaths of our people. For anybody who lives in communities like mine, the data is not a surprise. It’s a validation of what we already know.”
Her organization, along with American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and other local groups, joined to form the coalition PUSH LA, intent on scaling back traffic stops, ending pretextual stops to look for drugs and weapons, and recognition that the LAPD has engaged in racial profiling with compensation for those affected.
PUSH LA also called for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to withdraw the Metropolitan Division of the LAPD from South LA because they had been excessive in racial profiling. LAPD Chief Michael Moore implemented a study of stop-and-search data to better understand differences occurring across races, neighborhoods, and with various police. This will help deploy resources more appropriately and without discrimination, he stated.
He announced he is also making changes to the Metropolitan Division. Crime suppression units will focus on “specific dangerous criminals while engaging in more substantive community outreach, thereby reducing our reliance on investigative stops.”
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