Congress: Continue the Conversation on Race. Hold the Hearing.
As a black man in a rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood, I knew the officers were there for me.
Earlier this year I moved back to New York after years working for the Obama administration in D.C. I hired a U-Haul, and was carrying boxes up the five flights of stairs when I saw a police car pull up to my building. My stomach dropped.
I spent the next hour under “investigation” by seven different officers because one of my new neighbors had called the police on me, thinking I was stealing.
What’s worse is that my story is typical: in the past few months we’ve heard too many stories of people calling the police on black people for engaging in everyday, normal activities like sitting in a Starbucks, barbequing in a park, even for sleeping in a university common room.
The domino effect that ensues from a racially-biased 911 call is a costly one, from the financial resources from 911 operators to the protocol police officers must then follow.
These incidents are part of a history of racism and profiling in this country where 911 and the police are used as weapons to exclude black people from white spaces. And the consequences amount to more than just exclusion: far too many black people have died at the hands of police officers, from Tamir Rice, to Eric Garner, to Rekia Boyd.
This excessive response to everyday behavior risks arrest, incarceration, and death: generations of black lives pay the ultimate cost.
Calling 911 to report normal, legal behavior is not only a waste of public resources – it’s dangerous. It’s time we did something about racial profiling.
We are asking Congress to hold hearings to address this pattern of racist 911 calls. These hearings will allow victims of racial profiling to share our stories, and empower legislators to think through solutions to the problem. There’s precedent for this: the House and Senate have both held hearings on racial profiling before. We’re asking them to do it again.
Sign the petition to demand that Congress #HoldTheHearing on racial profiling.