OPRF High School named four winners of its annual Martin Luther King essay contest. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, they were asked to write about the cause they would march for today. Space permitting, we will run one each week for the next four weeks.
Have you ever been mistaken for a criminal because you "fit the profile"? This is a common scenario all across America. Racial profiling has plagued the values of United States law enforcement and is unfair to all minorities.
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. along with 250,000 firm believers, marched for equality in America. If I were to march for a passion of mine, each stride would be to end the injustice of racial profiling. This is a form of unlawful racism, which occurs when an officer of authority uses the consideration of race in developing a criminal profile. Police are able to make judgments on suspicion alone; this leads to wrongfully convicted citizens, who just want the discrimination to end. All too often minorities are being hauled off to jail because they "fit the profile." Racial profiling is wrong, and it alters lives, destroys families, and halts dreams.
Marching with me would be my mom. She understands profiling all too well because she worked as a school nurse in Chicago. Almost every one of the students she saw was underprivileged or living close to poverty. Many of the students had children, were in gangs, or had already been to jail. Profiling was nothing new to this school.
Because of racial profiling, many African American and other minorities sit in penitentiaries and prisons across this nation, many of whom were unjustly prosecuted, and in some cases innocent. Profiling also affirms the many cruel stereotypes that are held in our society. The stinging generalizations — all African Americans are criminals or gang affiliated, and most Hispanics are illegal — do not set a good example for the public.
Let's take the case of Cornelius Dupree Jr. He was a Texas man accused of rape. According to Jeff Carlton, court documents stated a 26-year-old woman and a male friend were robbed at gunpoint by two black men in the parking lot of a Dallas liquor store in November 1979. The men ordered the couple to drive and eventually forced the man out of the car before taking the woman to a nearby park where they raped her and stole her fur coat. Mr. Dupree and another man, Anthony Massingill, were arrested in December 1979 after the woman picked the pair out of a photo lineup. The male victim was unable to identify either man. Mr. Dupree was sentenced to 75 years for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. He entered prison in December 1979. His case got overturned due to DNA testing, and he was released on Jan. 3, 2011. Now the state of Texas has to pay him $2.4 million in a lump sum that is not subject to federal income tax as a result of being wrongfully convicted.
I have not yet been profiled in such a way. However, this does not change my stance on the topic. A close friend of mine, Marcus, was stopped by police for no apparent reason. The officer threatened a search and beat him with questions, simply because of his Hispanic origins. I recall the days after, how depressed he was.
By marching for this cause, I would hope that no minority must go through this unjust phase — and to let people know that there are unsolved racial tensions in our country. This is an issue that can be seen around the nation, and can happen to any age group. Law enforcement seems to believe that profiling a person based on race "comes with the job" or is inevitable.
If I had a sign above my head, it would say, "What is fair about profiling? Nothing."