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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Wednesday June 12th 2024

Letter to the Editor: Profile Police Stops that fear non-whites of any age

By Laura Waterman Wittstock

I don”'t know how many studies I have read that non-whites are stopped far more than whites. In MN American Indians are arrested far more than their population should suggest when compared to other populations. A great majority of these arrests do not result in convictions.

We can”'t have an intelligent conversation without understanding what the relationship is between nonwhites driving cars and the stopping rates. In a non-scientific way, I have also noticed a lot of stops of older cars, whatever color the driver happens to be so. So poverty is likely another factor.

The police represent the expectations of the presumed law-abiding public.

Ten years ago I was stopped in a sweep around Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis for presumably not stopping long enough at a stop sign for the officer who was in a car perpendicular to me on another street. As I stopped and looked left, I saw him. After stopping I started out and he came after me. I told him I stopped and I saw him but he said I did not stop. I had to be somewhere in a few minutes so I took the ticket, but as I argued with him he told me to put my hands on the dash. He said he was getting fearful. That was a signal. He was about 6”'2” and young. I was 70 and small. I had no idea why he would say I made him fearful. So I just stopped talking.

He got away with a lie. I paid the ticket. It was the last one I got. None since then.

Why they were sweeping the Franklin area I have no idea. But many if not most of the stops would have been to people who could ill afford a $113 ticket. I have not seen a sweep there since. I think there were a lot of complaints. I think I complained too at the time.

But for that big strapping cop with a gun telling me he was getting fearful was a terrible signal to me. It ended the discussion because I had some idea of what his next move would be.

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