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Ethical Issues in Film

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Essay title: Ethical Issues in Film

Racial profiling is a term society has become familiar with in the past few years; however, it is not a new phenomenon. Racial profiling according to Fredrickson, "occurs when law enforcement officials rely on race, skin color, and/or ethnicity as an indication of criminality, reasonable suspicion, or probable cause, except when it is part of the description of a particular suspect" (1). There are many opposing views on racial profiling; some believe it to be a useful tool used by law enforcement, while others believe it to be another way to discriminate against minorities. This paper sets out to examine racial profiling from its origin to present day, taking a look into both sides of the racial profiling issue to find what if any laws are in place to prevent racial profiling from taking place.

Racial discrimination is not a new phenomenon it can be traced back over one hundred years to slavery times. Dark skinned individuals have always been seen as inferior to that of the white man. Even after slavery was abolished there was still segregation; separate drinking fountains, restrooms, colleges/educational facilities and bus seats for blacks and whites. This mentality has carried over to law enforcement and is seen today in the form of racial profiling. Racial discrimination has been around almost as far as we can look back in history; however, we can see a clear beginning to racial profiling of individuals within law enforcement.

Over and over again on the news, radio, or by word of mouth we hear the stories of racial profiling by police, here is a story that shows how dangerous racial profiling is, not just to the victims but to all those of "color" living within the United States. Mr. Garcia was targeted as he and his six-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter waited in the car for his wife. He was approached by a police officer that requested his identification. When he questioned the need to show his I.D., the officer became angry, cursed at him, and threatened to spray him with pepper spray. Mr. Garcia attempted to comply with the officer's orders, but as he reached for his wallet, the officer sprayed him with mace, dragged him from his truck, struck him, and then arrested him. He describes the experience as traumatizing for both himself and his children, who watched in fear from the truck as the abuse took place (Heuman). One can imagine the view that Mr. Garcia's children hold of law enforcement officers. They saw their dad being beat and maced at the hands of someone who is supposed to protect and serve them. Cases like Mr. Garcia's are prime examples of why many in today's society, especially those of color, lose faith in the criminal justice system and do not respect officers of the law.

In the past few years the issue of racial profiling has become a predominant issue for state and federal law enforcement agencies. Agencies have been scrutinized for the lack of laws prohibiting stops of individuals based on race and ethnicity. We, the public, have seen and heard of numerous cases of police violence on individuals of color. Racial profiling has been around before the attacks on the World Trade Centers; however, the cases of profiling have seemed to heighten after 9-11 as opposed to hearing of African-American discrimination it has now turned to those of Arabic decent.

Different individuals hold different opinions of racial profiling, many believe it is a useful tool using the rationale that most African-Americans or Arabic individuals that they stop have warrants out for their arrest or are currently involved in some sort of illegal activity. This they claim is reason enough to allow racial profiling to continue, they believe it keeps the streets safer and it is a step in the right direction to squashing terrorism. On the other hand, there those who believe in civil rights and that each and every individual has the freedom to live without the harassment of law enforcement constantly lingering in the back of his or her mind. These individuals hold the opinion that racial profiling is just another way to discriminate against minorities within the US (Balkin). The United States Government tends to agree with those who believe it is a form of discrimination, thus allowing State and Federal agencies to take active roles to eliminate or to lessen the occurrence of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies.

On June 9, 1998 the Transportation Equity Act (TEA) was passed, which was the first federal racial profiling provision. The TEA included a provision that allows states to apply for federal funds up to sixty million over six years to develop racial profiling laws, to maintain racial data of vehicle stops by police and to train law enforcement officers so that they do not make stops on the basis of race. The provision contained tough requirements for qualifying for the federal grant funding, including a state law

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