Is there racial profiling for drivers in the Cleveland Metro area?
By Arooj Ashraf, Correspondent for La Prensa
Cleveland: Activist leaders and concerned residents gathered at Lil Africa Village on 6816 Superior Ave. to discuss the State of the City on Feb. 1, 2013. They brought cans of food to add to the communion pot of soup as it simmered in the kitchen along with soul food.
As the aroma warmed the room the discussion focused on whether or not ticketing practices in the City of Cleveland are tainted with racial profiling. The Village Soup event co-sponsored by the Audacity of H.O.P.E.offers a place to share grievances and create action plans to curb injustice in the city through education and advocacy.
Cleveland State University’s Urban Studies Professor Dr. Ronnie Dunn shared his research studies documenting the patterns of ticketing in four areas: Cleveland, Shaker Heights, Brookpark, and Westlake. He published his findings and conclusions in the book: “Racial Profiling, Causes and Consequences.” He highlighted the most frequently issued violations in each area and how they were issued according to race. The most common ticket was given to speeders in all four suburbs with Whites being issued the most.
Dr. Dunn said speeding is the most obvious violation whereas others that include driving without a speed belt, without license or insurance or under suspension are rolling tickets where the officers run the plate information before indicating the vehicle stop. These violations were issued in disproportionally higher numbers to the Black drivers.
The disparities were higher in predominantly black communities, with nearly 92 percent of black drivers being cited for driving under suspension and 83 percent for driving without a seatbelt. Dr. Dunn said the statistical probability the results when studied in the racial context are impossible and indicate a culture of profiling based on race. Such profiling reinforces stereotypes and justifies segregation, he said. “If Cleveland is going to be a city that welcomes diverse people who will then be subjected to these types of practices then it will be a deterrent,” he said.
Don Bryant from Immigrant Support Network
Dr. Ronnie Dunn, CSU Urban Studies Professor
Griot Y--Von, Founder of the Audacity of H.O.P.E. Foundation
He said the consequences of ticketing, non-moving violations and license suspensions create a vicious cycle. “The fines are high; if you fight the ticket you are looking at loss of income, taking time off from work, the court fees, and other miscellaneous expenses.” A driver convicted for SOL (Suspension of Drivers License) also receives 6 points on his driving record, must carry “high risk” insurance (SR-22 Bond) for 3 years, and must pay a high reinstatement fee to the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles).
Dr. Dunn also pointed out that the loss of driving privileges of a certain population create further disadvantage when they are low-skilled and the jobs available to them are in the suburbs. He said the Ohio laws also include 17 non-driving violations which includes suspension of license for failure to pay child support. He said the resistance to address the issues and openly acknowledge there is a problem is corrosive and said creating awareness and educating people is an important step.