LAPD Accused of Racial Profling, Violating Protocol
SCIC, a self-identified progressive organization, was founded on the idea to pressure President Obama on immigration reform. The NLG is a non-profit organization made up of lawyers, legal workers and law students “using the law to protect human rights above property interests and to attain social justice.”
The report itself is made up of 40 real-life stories of victims of “serious abuse of police power,” as stated in the opening lines of the written report. It accuses the Los Angeles Police Department of racial profiling and denying due process rights in checkpoints and routine traffic stops. They are looking for undocumented workers who do not have acceptable driver’s licenses.
“If you have a Hispanic-looking car, the policeman pulls you over and simply asks, ‘Are you licensed to drive?’ If the answer is no, the policeman will then automatically impound the car,” said Martin Terrones, a founding member of SCIC.
Terrones explained that oftentimes the police report simply lists “no license” as the reason for the stop, rather than a visible offense such as a broken taillight. He argued that pulling someone over on suspicion of driving without a license is a clear example of racial profiling.
DUI checkpoints have been another successful method for impounding cars of non-licensed drivers. However, victims and organizations like SCIC have been able to fight back against checkpoints. By alerting drivers further up the road of an upcoming checkpoint, drivers can turn around to avoid the potential trap. As the checkpoints cost between $40,000-$60,000 to maintain, the LAPD is often forced to close them down.
Once a car has been impounded, it is often impossible for the driver to get it back, according to Terrones.
“It is scary for these drivers to walk into a police station because they don’t have the proper documents,” he said.
For those who do work up the courage, they usually do not know steps in the impound process, such as the paperwork to ask for and how to request an impound hearing.
Several victims joined the organizations last week as part of the release of the report. Those who attended the event described the act as nothing short of bravery for walking into the police station.
At this time, the LAPD is not commenting on the alleged profiling.
The LAPD is not the only police force allegedly abusing these powers.
According to Terrones, the Culver City Police Department once set up a checkpoint between 7:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on a weekday, which he pointed out is an unlikely time for drivers to be drunk. In those 75 minutes, 115 cars were impounded and 100 percent of the drivers were Hispanic. Almost all of the drivers were on their way to work or driving their children to school.
The NLG and the SCIC offer free legal clinics for impound victims where they can receive legal advice and assistance with the impound process, including the impound hearing.
“It’s a long commitment,” said Cynthia Anderson-Barker, an attorney with the NLG, in reference to the lawyers’ and law students’ volunteer work.
Anderson-Barker said the NLG is responsible for organizing the clinic and the volunteers in addition to doing follow-up.
Both Anderson-Barker and Terrones expressed hope that the joint report will help place priority on the issue.
“This report asks for a public meeting forum with Charlie Beck and the victims,” Anderson-Barker said.
Terrones said the group wanted to show the report to the mayor with the hope of canceling the impound policy for driving without a license.
“Other cities have no impound policy, but the drivers are still ticketed,” Terrones said.
Best way to find more great content from Neon Tommy?
Or join our email list below to enjoy the weekly Neon Tommy News Highlights.