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As we look forward with anticipation to the month of February's celebration of Black History - it is with a great pride that we deliver this impactful investigative journalism to you!
After months of research, exhaustive interviews and digging through court records and police reports, on this edition of Light ‘Em Up we focus on pretextual traffic stops made by law enforcement that disproportionally impact minorities and individuals of color, often called “DWB” (Driving While Black). Pretextual policing is the practice of stopping someone for one reason (often a minor traffic violation) in order to conduct investigations unrelated to the reason for the stop.
Pretextual policing has historically been used to enforce laws based on stereotypes, with police acting on implicit and explicit bias to stop and search people who “looked suspicious”. Once stopped, individuals and their vehicles are often searched, or “tossed” in hopes that police will find illegal items such as drugs or weapons.
For minorities and individuals of color, a traffic stop can be a life and death experience. It shouldn’t be this way. People are dying daily from these contacts with police.
Light ‘Em Up’s investigative research team has uncovered that over the past 5 years, police officers have killed >400 drivers or passengers who did not have a gun nor a knife, who were not under immediate pursuit for a violent crime - a rate of over 1 person per week.
As we all know too well - among the most glaring recent examples of a pretextual stop gone wrong is the matter of Daunte Wright. This case drew national attention. Daunte Wright, moments before he was fatally shot in Brooklyn Center, MN, told his mother that the police had stopped him because he had an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror.
Sandra Bland was arrested and taken to jail – where she subsequently died - after being pulled over for failing to use a turn signal when changing lanes.
Philando Castile did everything right, yet he was shot and killed, nonetheless.
With this episode we want to aide in your critical thinking on this topic to help educate the public and empower you to know the essential ingredients that go into the threat behind being a person of color pulled over for a pretextual traffic stop. As you drive to work, for recreation, visiting family or friends - having the knowledge in this episode is imperative to the overall understanding of pre-textual traffic stops by police.
We share in-depth and exclusive insight from our Social Justice, Peace & Reconciliation Correspondent, Mr. Heyward R. Prude lll and his experience with pretextual contact with police.
We examine the foundation of these stops, which originate in the 1996 case Whren v U.S. This case presents a question about when seizures of motorists are unreasonable within the meaning of the 4th Amendment. It has had a profound impact with severe implications, especially to individuals and communities of color.
You don't need to be a person of color to listen to this episode – you only need to be human; this subject should matter to everyone that loves justice.
With this, we continue our focus on delivering the truth without compromise – empowering you with the necessary knowledge to keep you and your family as safe as possible from a pretextual police stop.
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