As someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time answering questions from officious customs and immigration and Transportation Security Administration types, this writer well knows the anxiety that comes with Traveling While Brown. A printing error on the receipt of a rental car results in a half-hour interrogation and search of the vehicle at the border crossing between Canada and the U.S.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America’s homeland, a majority of Americans (mostly non-browns) have no problem with citizens who resemble the Middle Eastern terrorists being racially profiled.
Likewise, there is growing sentiment in this country that it’s perfectly all right to stop individuals who look to be from Mexico and ask them to show proof of citizenship or residency.
It’s about keeping the country safe, you see.
And yet, terrorist attacks in America, including those committed by several white men, and the crimes by illegal aliens have claimed fewer victims than what’s happening daily on the streets of America’s cities.
Thousands of people are killed each year as a result of the violence — most of it drug related — that has turned urban America into a veritable war zone.
Youngstown, with its shrinking population, stagnant tax base and troubled public school system, is a dramatic case study. With barely 65,000 residents, Youngstown has recorded its 18th homicide. Only by comparison does the record of 64 homicides a number of years ago provide some solace.
Over the years, this space has been dedicated to the proposition that extreme measures must be taken to deal with the criminals who show no respect for life or society.
Time for action
Constitutional concerns notwithstanding, the only way to deal with the seemingly intractable crime problem in Youngstown is to get rid of the gangbangers and others whose brazenness has law-abiding residents demanding iron-fisted law enforcement.
Youngstown city officials should consider adopting the anti-crime campaign that has been in effect in New York City for a decade: Stop-and-Frisk.
More than 4 million people have been stopped by police and subjected to street interrogations, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the campaign on the grounds that it’s based on racial profiling.
“Blacks and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics,” the NYCLU contends. “Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s (New York Police Department’s) own reports.”
But FBI’s crime statistics show that Stop-and-Frisk is working.
In cities across the country, blacks and Latinos account for more crimes than any other ethnic group. In Youngstown, black-on-black crime is the rule. Therefore, it stands to reason that blacks would have to be profiled in greater numbers than other racial groups if a campaign like Stop-and-Frisk is to be successful.
Black leaders who have bemoaned the destruction of the black community as a result of the gang violence would have to take the lead in supporting law enforcement in such an endeavor.
Youngstown’s population is shrinking because young families that can escape to the suburbs are doing so. Crime and failing schools are two of the major reasons for the exodus.
The population that’s left behind is mostly older people on fixed incomes or younger people receiving some sort of government assistance.
And then there are the gangbangers flaunting their expensive cars, clothing and jewelry, trolling the streets of the city conducting their drug trades.
Police should have the ability to stop these individuals and ask for proof of employment or proof of legitimate wealth that gives them the ability to afford such expensive bling.
But it isn’t only with law enforcement that such profiling should occur.
When some individual walks into a car dealership, picks out the top-of-the-line SUV and offers to pay in cash, the salesman should red flag the purchase and notify law enforcement.
When a real estate agent is offered cash for an inner-city home, the transaction should be brought to the attention of the police. Most often, the structure will become a crack house.
It’s time to make life hell for the criminals. Youngstown should launch a Stop-and-Frisk campaign.