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64 Guild Prac. 17 (2007)
A Path to Curbing Racial Profiling: An Overview and a Call to Action

handle is hein.journals/guild64 and id is 25 raw text is: SHAUNA CURPHEY &
In early March of 2006, Portland Mayor Tom Potter told a Somali immi-
grant who had been stopped four times in 18 months that the police actions
smacked of racism.' More egregious cases have come to the attention of
the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center in recent months: in one case, a
young African American male had been pulled over nearly 20 times in less
than two years--and three times on a single day. The purported reason for
the stops, according to police reports, were minor traffic violations, such as
failing to signal a turn or having the front tires of his vehicle in the pedestrian
crosswalk. Citywide statistics have revealed that these are not isolated cases
of racial profiling by the Portland police.
The Portland Police Bureau recently released traffic stops data for 2004 and
2005. In the traffic stops in both years, African Americans and Hispanic/Latino
drivers were overrepresented. Thirteen percent of the total number of stops in
each year were of drivers who were African Americans, despite the fact that
African Americans constitute only about 6 percent of the Portland population.2
By contrast, whites make up about 79 percent of the population but were stopped
in only 69 percent of the traffic stops in 2005. Moreover, African Americans
and Latinos/Hispanics were twice as likely to be searched during the stops as
whites, despite the fact that whites were found to have contraband more often
than either minority group. (Police found contraband in 10 percent of the stops
of white drivers, compared to 8 percent of the stops of African American driv-
ers and 7.3 percent of the stops of Latino/Hispanic drivers.)3
Unfortunately, recent statewide research has revealed similar trends through-
out Oregon. For example, 30 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of African
Americans in Oregon reported one or more traffic stops by police in the past
year, compared to only 20 percent of Caucasians who reported one or more
stops. Moreover, 21 percent of African American respondents reported being
stopped by police two or more times within the past 12 months compared to
only 6 percent of other respondents from the same geographical area. Finally,
40 percent of Hispanics and 73 percent of African Americans said that they
Shauna Curphey is the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center's fellow attorney. Alejandro
Queral is the Center's executive director. For more information about the Northwest
Constitutional Rights Center or to make a donation, please contact Mr. Queral at aqueral@
nwcrc.org, or visit www.nwcrc.org. This article first appeared in Civil Rights, the newsletter
of the Oregon State Bar Civil Rights Section in September 2006.

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