Chicago’s segregated housing pattern and the race of persons accused of committing most gun crimes make it likely that the Chicago Police Department will bump heads with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.
That happened on Monday when the organization released its analysis of stop and frisk arrests.
The ACLU found that the controversial policing strategy is “disproportionately concentrated in the black community,” and that African Americans were “subjected to 72% of all stops, yet constitute just 32% of the city’s population.”
The organization also found that even in majority white police districts, minorities were “stopped disproportionately to the number of minority people living in those districts.”
RELATED: CPD stopped quarter of a million people — mostly black — without arrests last summer, ACLU says
The ACLU called the number of stops, “shocking,” and claimed that in nearly half of the stops reviewed, officers “either gave an unlawful reason for the stop or failed to provide enough information to justify the stop.”
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy defended the police department’s use of stop and frisk in an email statement.
“Our chief goal is to ensure that everyone’s neighborhood enjoys the same sense of safety, and the best way to achieve that goal is working with the communities we serve,” McCarthy said.
“People should only be stopped based on crime data and crime information. Nothing else,” he said.
When you look at these numbers, it certainly seems to suggest that Chicago police are targeting black people without reason for the invasive and humiliating treatment.
But I don’t believe that to be the case.
Certainly, there are police officers that stop a black person because that officer doesn’t like the sag of the person’s pants or for some other frivolous reason.
Sadly, too many people in black communities are either perpetrating crimes or are victims of crime. I don’t want to get into the debate about why this is the case. But certainly poverty, high unemployment, drug dealing, and the gang activity that goes on in some predominantly black neighborhoods have created an environment akin to a war zone.
I live in a predominantly black neighborhood and it breaks my heart to see young black men pressed up against police cars being searched.
But it makes me even sadder to know that practically everyday on the South and West Sides of this city a person of color is killed by gunfire.
Last weekend, four people were killed and at least 18 other people were wounded in shootings. Most of those shootings happened in predominantly black neighborhoods, although the gunfire has now made its way to the North Side as well.
Two weeks ago, a stray bullet killed Odell Branch Sr., a 77-year-old church deacon, while he sat on his couch in his home watching television.
What about his constitutional rights?
According to the ACLU, police officers are not required to record when they frisk someone, and that needs to change.
But the only sure way to reduce the number of stop and frisks in black communities is to significantly reduce the crime in those neighborhoods.
That’s not on police.
That’s on the people who live there.
I would love to live in a neighborhood where the police only showed up in response to a call for help.
But the truth is, I live in a neighborhood where a police stop and frisk is too often a welcome sight.