Driving While Black

Portland Tribune article about racial profiling in Portland, featuring Unite Oregon Executive Director Kayse Jama

The following is an excerpt from a Portland Tribune article on racial profiling, featuring Unite Oregon's Director Kayse Jama. It is intended for informational and educational purposes only © 2016 Portland Tribune.

By Peter Korn, Portland Tribune
April 16, 2016

Once a year. That, says state Rep. Lew Frederick, is how often he gets stopped in his car for what he is certain is no good reason. And that, he says, is an improvement.

“It’s only once a year now that I’ve got gray hair,” says the 64-year-old longtime Irvington resident.

No good reason doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason. Frederick believes his once-a-year stops are due to racial profiling. He’s black. That’s enough, he says, once a year.

“I will be pulled over for incredibly minor things just to check on me,” Frederick says.

Members of the minority communities for years have talked about being pulled over for “Driving While Black” or “Driving While Hispanic.” There are black and brown men and women who insist unwarranted racial profiling still happens on a regular basis in Portland. There are others who say the type of stops Frederick describes happen less frequently than they once did in Portland, but are still common in suburban and rural communities around the state.

The truth is, nobody knows how frequently this type of profiling occurs. The practice is fairly common with young black men — on Friday and Saturday nights Portland police officers with the Gang Enforcement Team regularly stop and engage them in conversations. Those conversations often start with officers asking if they can pat down the young men to make sure they aren’t carrying weapons, and according to police they are an attempt at relationship building and showing a presence in high crime hot spots.

Read the full article on the Portland Tribune web site.