Today the NAACP made it very clear what they think about Bellaire’s report on racial profiling. This is First Vice President D. Z. Cofield:
“For all intents and purposes, this consulting report is a joke.”
The consultant hired by the city says that the data doesn’t prove, or disprove, racial profiling. But Cofield says that you have to look at the report in context: over the past 7 years, African-Americans and Hispanics made up the majority of traffic stops in a city that is almost 90 percent White:
“Our contention is that that history is an indication of a history of racial profiling. If you go back over the last 7 years and you see consistent activity in this way, then what does that suggest?”
This debate is especially heated because of a recent case involving African American Bellaire resident, Robbie Tolan, who was shot by police who mistakenly thought he had stolen a car. Cofield says you have to speak to the residents themselves to see what racial profiling looks and feels like:
“An African-American gentleman who was putting Christmas lights up on his house and a police officer comes by and begins small talking with this gentleman, and then asks him ‘Does the owner of the house know what you’re doing?’ When in fact he is talking to the owner of the house.”
The Bellaire Police department says it complies with racial profiling laws, but that additional analysis is needed.
Melissa Galvez, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.