TSA-Like Pat-downs Are Nothing New in the Inner City
CorbisThis happens to us everyday
Arbitrary searches, humiliating pat-downs, unwanted fondling by authorities - such experiences have become a thing of horror among airplane passengers these days.
This time, airline officials are no longer limiting such screenings to suspected "terrorists" (aka anyone appearing South Asian, Muslim, or of Arab descent). Now anyone, including the lady with the prosthetic breast, is literally up for grabs.
But don't expect
much sympathy from syndicated columnist Glen Ford, co-founder of the "Black Agenda Report."
In his opinion piece "If the Airport is a Police State, What is the Ghetto?" Ford said recent complaints about the increasingly invasive airport searches are warranted but somewhat hypocritical "if the howls come from folks who applaud or remain silent while police in big cities across the country subject hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino males to arbitrary stop and frisks."
Just about any person of color living in New York, Philadelphia, LA, or other city in America, where searches are a staple of life, can tell you what it's like.
Ford cites that police conducted 50,000 stops over a two-period in Bedford-Stuyvesant's eight-block region.
The same goes for Philadelphia, a city one-sixth the size of New York, where 200,000 mostly black male pedestrians are stopped every year.
Airline passengers "don't realize it's a police state," said Copwatch LA organizer, Joaquin Cienfuegos. "It's nothing new."
And forget about being black, Latino or Asian and riding around in your hooptee in East Los Angeles, South LA , Pacoima, Van Nuys...or Burbank for that matter.
A broken tail light, a broken side mirror, or any reason at all will sometimes result in a police officer pulling you over.
"It's no different from what we see on a regular day," said community organizer, Miguel Paredes.
But unlike airport searches, the day-to-day searches of people of color have led to fatal consequences.
The unjust shooting of Guatemalan laborer Manuel Jamines by police officers reveals that an innocent man may have been killed just because he looked the part of a perpetrator.
This is also true for Oscar Grant, James Davis, Deondre Brunston and others who were shot and killed after they were confronted by the police.
But instead of the full-on rebellion that the airport searches have ignited in the media, invasive police searches and incidents of police brutality are barely registering a blip on the radar among increasingly de-sensitized readers.
Perhaps the silver lining in the airport search fiasco is that we start to think twice before we support efforts to profile this or that group for suspected criminal and terrorist activities.
Doing so could prevent future mistreatment of people in the hands of TSA officials and other authority figures.
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