The Supreme Court ruled 5-3 on Monday in favor of law enforcement, saying that evidence obtained after illegal stops and searches can be used by police in court as long as they find a suitable reason when they run your criminal record.
From The New York Times:
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority in the 5-to-3 decision, said such searches do not violate the Fourth Amendment when the warrant is valid and unconnected to the conduct that prompted the stop.
Justice Thomas’s opinion drew a fiery dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said that “it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny.”
“This case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time,” she wrote. “It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”
Okay, so everyone knows that minorities have had it pretty rough when it comes to the cops. But do you know who else this ruling puts at risk of profiling? Specifically when it comes to weed and open handles found in backpacks? What’s another group of whom law enforcement might be predisposed to be suspicious just because of the way they look?
In my college town, the entire police force is funded on fines and M.I.P.s given out in the truckloads to students. It’s a small, rural county seat that basically had a university three times the size of the regular population forcibly inserted into it. Because of this, as a ‘Frat Male’ (or a ‘Person of Fratness’) I often felt unreasonably profiled by the cops. It was an “invasion of my [soft, supple, often-inebriated] body,” as Justice Sotomayor puts it.
Every time I drove my golf cart around town, I was either followed by black SUVs or pulled over and stopped. Sure, I had fake plates on it at the time, often drove around with four or five people hanging off the back, and was usually committing several flagrant unrelated violations while driving, but, constitutionally, the police shouldn’t have known that. They never saw anything past my blazer and my Sperrys. I was only a paycheck to them, a sweet municipal fine waiting to plead guilty.
It’s not illegal to run up to two bike cops with an unopened 40 in your hand and yell “fuck the police!” No crime is being committed when a large group of Frat Males head to a fast food restaurant late at night.
But now, just because you’re on probation due to a couple M.I.P.s you might have gotten, or as a result of not paying some bullshit open container violation, the police have the right to stop you just because you look like you might be a rowdy frat boy who is probably going to go do something stupid. You are, but that’s your right as an American!
This is our culture. I’m tired of being marginalized and profiled because of the color of my polo shirt. It’s light, pastel blue with a red pony, and I’m proud of it!
The cops shouldn’t be able to stop us based on a hunch, even if it turns out that we do have a reason to be searched. If we’re planning on going to professional school, one misdemeanor can ruin our lives. It’s time to stand up for ourselves.
Frat Lives Matter..
[via The New York Times]
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