Racial Profiling | St. Louis Public Radio

Racial Profiling

Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis, reacts to the annual Vehicle Stops Report at Second Presbyterian Church on June 3, 2019.  She wants Missouri law enforcement officers to be held accountable for discriminatory practices during traffic stops against blacks.
File photo I Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

Sen. Karla May is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast, where the St. Louis Democrat talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about a bipartisan push to overhaul the criminal justice system.

May represents parts of St. Louis and St. Louis County. She was elected to the Senate in 2018 after spending eight years in the House.

Rep. Janelle Bynum's office is covered with artwork from students around her district.
Erica Morrison | OPB

Across the country, state legislatures have become more diverse over the past four years. New lawmakers bring different backgrounds and life experiences, and that can lead them to push for more inclusive measures.

In Oregon, Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, is the only African American legislator in the state House.

Last summer, Bynum was canvassing voters in her district when someone — one of her constituents — called the police on her. The encounter ended with Bynum and the officer taking a selfie, but it also attracted national attention.

Missouri state Treasurer Eric Schmitt. Dec. 7, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As he prepares to succeed Josh Hawley as Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt is considering changes to a report his agency produces aimed at tracking racial profiling in vehicle stops.

This screen grab from the viral video shows the woman who tried to stop her neighbor from entering the apartment building where they both live on Oct. 12, 2018.
D'Arreion Toles via Facebook

Updated at 1:30 p.m. to include the name of the woman and her response.

The woman seen by millions attempting to block a black man from entering the apartment building where they both reside has been terminated from her position as property manager at Tribeca-STL.

Since identified as Hilary Thornton, the woman is seen on the video trying to block D’Arreion Toles from entering the Elder Shirt Lofts building where they both reside. 

Psychologists say racial profiling can cause physical and mental health issues including anxiety attacks, insomnia and nightmares.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

When Washington University student Teddy Washington and nine other black incoming freshmen were stopped by Clayton police officers in early July, the group followed the officers’ orders to prove they were not the perpetrators of a recent “dine and dash” at the nearby IHOP.

Several of the students presented their receipts to the officers before they walked back to the restaurant around midnight on July 7, with police vehicles alongside them. The manager of the IHOP confirmed to the officers they were not the suspects and the students were free to leave.

The City of Clayton has apologized to the 10 black Washington University students involved in the July 7 incident.
File Photo | Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated July 20 at 4:15 p.m. - STLPR journalists Holly Edgell and Chad Davis joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to provide context and analysis about this story.

Original story from 7/19:

Clayton City Manager Craig Owens, Clayton Police Chief Kevin R. Murphy, and other officials met with several black students who were falsely accused of “dining and dashing” at an IHOP in Clayton.

Owens said the meeting was “emotionally powerful.”

“In hindsight, it is clear to us that we mishandled the interaction with these 10 Washington University students and lacked sensitivity about their everyday reality,” he said in a statement.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
Washington University | Flickr

Updated at 2:20 p.m. on July 17 with information on the city's apology. Updated on July 16 at 4:15 p.m. with comment from Clayton Police Chief  – Washington University asked the city of Clayton to apologize to 10 black incoming freshmen for an incident on July 7, and the city has complied.

The city posted a statement including the apology on its website.

Redditt Hudson, of the Urban League of St. Louis, was one of several local advocates responding to the 2017 Vehicle Stops Report on June 4, 2018.
Ashley Lisenby | St. Louis Public Radio

Black drivers are more likely to be stopped by police than other groups in Missouri. That’s what a report from Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office shows from data collected in 2017.

The annual Vehicle Stops Report shows black drivers were stopped at a rate of 85 percent higher than white drivers throughout the state. Black and Hispanic drivers were searched at higher rates than average as well. In cases of searches, white drivers were reportedly found with contraband more often.

Manager Cordell Lewis manages a team of 18 at the Ferguson Starbucks, which opened in 2016.
Starbucks

Updated June 1 with "St. Louis on the Air" segment – St. Louis Public Radio reporter Ashley Lisenby joined the show to talk about her locally focused reporting around implicit bias as Starbucks conducted company-wide training earlier this week.

Original story from May 30:

Employees at thousands of Starbucks stores went back to work Wednesday after a half-day seminar on Tuesday focused on company policies and discrimination.

In statements to the news media, Nordstrom Rack spokeswoman said normal procedures for calling police were not followed in the May incident.
File photo

The anti-bias training that closed Starbucks stores across the U.S. for a few hours Tuesday is over. Will it change anything?

That’s what one St. Louisan is asking after he was recently racially profiled at a local Nordstrom Rack. Mekhi Lee, 19, and his two friends were shopping at the store in early May when employees accused them of stealing. Lee said they had receipts to prove they paid for items.

The incident happened a couple of weeks after two men in Philadelphia were arrested after waiting in a Starbucks, an incident that led to nationwide anti-bias training for company employees.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson, a reporter at KCUR in Kansas City, conducted diversity and bias training for employers for more than 15 years.
KCUR

Starbucks stores across the country will be closed on Tuesday afternoon. The company announced it would use the half day to “conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores.”

Starbucks announced the move in April after video of police arresting two black men at a Philadelphia location went viral. An employee had called police because the men, who were waiting for someone, had not ordered anything and were refusing to leave. One of the pair had asked to the use the restroom.

Lily Dayan, left, and Devin Corley, right, take part in a walkout at Kirkwood High School to protest gun violence on March 14, 2018.
Devin Corley

Kirkwood High School freshmen Devin Corley and Lily Dayan decided they were going to make a change, starting with themselves and other local teens.

At Corley and Dayan's instigation, students from across the region are set to participate Saturday in a Black Lives Matter Youth Protest at the Aloe Plaza in downtown St. Louis. 

Report: Black drivers in Missouri more likely to be pulled over

Jun 1, 2017

New data show black drivers in Missouri were 75 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over last year. 

The annual report, which was released Wednesday by the state attorney general's office, shows the disparity rate last year increased from the year before, when blacks were 69 percent more likely than white motorists to be stopped. 

Rep. Shamed Dogan
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Shamed Dogan to the program.

The Ballwin Republican represents a portion of western and southwestern St. Louis County. He is seeking his second term in the Missouri House in his GOP-leaning state House district.

Attorney General Chris Koster speaks a press conference Thursday in St. Louis with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri's Dan Glaizer.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster wants legislators to make an annual racial disparity data report more impactful. This comes as his latest report, covering 2015, continues to show big discrepancies in how often police stop black drivers compared to white drivers.

Photo of police car
Jason Rojas | Flickr

Updated 6:20 p.m. June 2

Missouri state officials are under pressure to respond to a report that shows disparities between blacks and whites in traffic stops are the worst they've been since the state began collecting data 15 years ago.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Seven months after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, the U.S. Department of Justice today released two investigations - one that cleared Wilson and the other that accused Ferguson police and courts of violating constitutional rights.

File photo

This week, the Senate gave final approval to legislation that requires police departments to report the deaths of individuals in police custody. The bill’s passage on Wednesday came one day after witnesses before a subcommittee on human rights also expressed their support for the measure; their testimony illustrated why the legislation is needed. The bill, which passed the House last year at this time, now goes to the president for his signature.     

Darren Wilson
Undated video grab

One of the most important reforms that could grow out of the Aug. 9 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, experts say, would be the creation of a national database containing detailed information about all police shootings, whether or not suspects are wounded or killed.

On this much experts agree. But beneath that agreement, the debate about police use of force is fraught with sharp disagreements about how important a factor race plays.

Rosebud bills its downtown as a "magnificent mile" full of antique shops, restaurants and other stores.
Stephanie Lecci

The city of Rosebud, a small town about 70 miles southwest from St. Louis, is trying to reclaim its image after NAACP protesters were met there with aracially charged counter-protest.

via Facebook/Speed Factory Athletics

Since 2000, police departments in the state of Missouri have been required by law to report information about their traffic stops – including the race of the person pulled over. 

via Flickr/davidsonscott15

Civil rights advocates hope to build on the public awareness surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and others to push for a federal ban on racial profiling and to strengthen laws across the country. While Missouri ranks among those states with one of the more comprehensive laws on the books,  it falls short of what advocates say is necessary to combat racial profiling effectively. 

The primary focus of Missouri’s law deals with the collection and reporting of data related to traffic stops, including:

Locked In: One Family's Story From Behind The Front Lines

Aug 18, 2014
BreaDora, Marcus, theirBreaDora, Marcus, Jasmine and their mother Irma sit in their living room on August 17, 2014.  sister and their mother Irma in their living room Sunday night.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When violence broke out in Ferguson late Sunday, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Stephanie Lecci and Durrie Bouscaren took refuge in a family’s home. Bouscaren asked them what life is like right now in the formerly quiet suburb.

We met the Moore family in the middle of the night, after running from tear gas and gunfire during Sunday night’s clash between police and protestors. Stranded miles away from our cars, we knocked on the door of a house with the lights still on. Irma Moore let us in.

  

Coming To Grips With The Conflict, In Ferguson And Beyond

Aug 14, 2014
David Broome, UPI

Since Saturday’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown, St. Louisans have been trying to understand and deal with what happened.

How could a college-bound teenager with no history of violence or criminal behavior end up shot to death by a police officer in his own neighborhood? St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra and Tim Lloyd went to look for answers and to find out what people in Ferguson are doing to cope.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

Police stopped more than a million drivers in Missouri in 2013, statistics released Friday show, with African Americans still more likely to be pulled over than whites.

The Missouri Attorney General's office released the annual Vehicle Stops Report (VSR) Friday. In a statement, Attorney General Chris Koster said that the disproportionate number of stops of African American is less than ideal, but should serve as a way to start talking about how to remediate the trend.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 16, 2010 - Michael Moore didn't know why he and his wife were pulled over Tuesday afternoon. According to the Kirkwood resident, who is African American, the two had their seatbelts buckled and were driving the speed limit on Manchester Road when a St. Louis County police officer pulled them over, collected both Moores' identification and wrote them a citation for a license plate cover that was too dark.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When two gangs of African-American girls began fighting in the halls of Kirkwood High School this spring, Robyn Jordan, Monica Gibbs and a group of their high-achieving African-American friends got fed up. They organized to combat racial stereotypes and visited middle schools to urge girls to avoid fights when they get to high school.

Jordan and Gibbs found themselves dealing with negative stereotypes among some teachers and other students even as they wrestle with what it takes for an African-American student to achieve in a predominantly white school in a predominantly white town where they feel as though they are expected to fail.

Commentary: Teachable moments happen too often

Aug 10, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 10 2009 - As an educator of law students, I am always looking for creative ways to teach important legal and philosophical principles. It is essential to ponder how the law developed and how historical values and doctrines evolved. Discussions of race and poverty are constant themes in our clinic where we focus on representing the poor with various legal challenges.

Commentary: Focusing on beer ignores institutional racism

Jul 31, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 31, 2009 - I was avoiding writing about the Gates-Crowley incident. Why? Because it is not novel. Anyone who has a close relationship with a person of color - or a college-age fraternity male for that matter - has likely heard a similar story. You (or your "friend") have a different account of what went down compared to the police report. It is often a case of he-said vs. he-said.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 23, 2009 - After an hour talking about health care and after months of trying to stay above the racial fray, President Barack Obama said at his press conference on Wednesday that Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his own home.

He said the arrest and racial profiling show that "race remains a factor in the society. That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet, the fact of the matter is this still haunts us."

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