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Racial Profiling in L.A.

January 25, 2003

Re "What Looks Like Profiling Might Just Be Good Policing," Opinion, Jan. 19: As a black person who had no encounters with the local police while growing up in central Kentucky in the 1950s through mid-'60s but was constantly subjected to them after coming to L.A. -- though I've never had a criminal record or even an overdue parking ticket in 35 years -- I have to vehemently disagree with Heather Mac Donald's claim that LAPD profiling is justified. Cops have arrogantly admitted they'd stopped me for no reason. Since the police supposedly run the plates before pulling a car over, you'd think they'd give the same benefit of the doubt to a minority person with a clean record that they apparently do to whites.

Most commentary has centered around incidents in South-Central and East L.A., but I suggest a look at such actions in Hollywood, which over the last 25 years has developed a racially and ethnically diverse patronage. From personal experience as well as observation, young minority males are far more likely to be pulled over and required to stand outside their cars, as if they're criminals, while the cars are being searched than whites, older minorities and women of any race or ethnicity. In fact, the only whites I've ever seen subjected to this kind of treatment were hippies in the late '60s, punk rockers a decade later and flamboyantly dressed drag queens on Halloween.

Rick Mitchell

Los Angeles

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Finally someone stated the reality that "blacks committed 41% of all robberies ... though they constitute only 11% of the city's population." Police have a tough and dangerous job, particularly given the violence in L.A., and while some may be unnecessarily aggressive, even racist, in the words of a police officer, "We like to go home safely too at the end of the day."

Rick Taylor

Huntington Beach

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I reread Mac Donald's column about policing versus profiling and could not find the word "justice." I am more than OK with evidence-based searches for criminals. But where are the statistics on joblessness and hopelessness in our poorest neighborhoods? And where are the statistics on the harsh, uneven penalties accorded to black or Latino criminals? Of course overworked public defenders cannot even the scales for the poorest in our courts. But Mac Donald's man with a gold tooth is no excuse for the uneven hand of justice in our streets.

Tom Sloss

Fountain Valley

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