Police Use of Racial Profiling Is Forum Topic

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The problem isn't limited to DWB. It can also happen if you're DWA or DWM.

The acronyms--which stand, respectively, for "driving while black," "driving while Asian" and "driving while a minority"--are newer names for an old problem, says the Rev. Zedar E. Broadous, president of the San Fernando Valley branch of the NAACP.

Broadous will join Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU, and other speakers Tuesday at a forum at Cal State Northridge about racial profiling, the procedure by which law enforcement officers single out individuals because of the color of their skin.

"A lot of students refuse to be on the panel because they are afraid of being tagged by the police," said Carolyn Okazaki, a CSUN counselor who has had many students complain of profiling. "So we imported a student from UNLV. He is originally from Compton and he is doing a paper on the topic."

That speaker, Jason Frierson, is also outgoing president of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas law school.

Okazaki said she organized the event because "this is nothing new, but we are just coming around to talking about it."

In December, the federal government reached an unprecedented accord with the state of New Jersey to stop its troopers from using racial profiling when making highway traffic stops.

Many California police agencies are now voluntarily collecting racial data about police stops to see if race is being used unfairly in making such stops; but the Los Angeles Police Department has declined to do so, saying it would hinder investigations.

Broadous remembers being stopped years ago by police in Burbank and Woodland Hills because few African Americans lived in those neighborhoods. Today he supports the LAPD and its recent reforms and cautioned that police have to use race when it fits a criminal profile.

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The forum will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in CSUN's Performing Arts Center. It is free and open to the public.

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