Yesterday, associate director Elizabeth Simpson filed an amicus brief in the North Carolina Supreme Court in State v. Johnson, a case about how criminal defendants can prove racial profiling and selective enforcement of the law. Using new data analysis from public health researcher Mike Dolan Fliss, the brief reveals that North Carolina law enforcement has been derelict in refusing to set a benchmark for the racial composition of drivers in North Carolina, posing an unfair burden to individuals trying to prove race discrimination in traffic stops.
The Brief argues:
Black people are systematically over-policed by law enforcement officers. Law enforcement officers patrol our state’s streets, roads, and highways looking for “suspicious behavior” under the guise of public safety and traffic enforcement. Because of the legacy of racism and overt and implied racist narratives about Black criminality, Black people are systematically perceived as more “suspicious” by law enforcement, simply as they go about their daily lives—sitting in cars, walking “hurriedly,” living and working in a “high crime area,” or acting “nervous” in the presence of police.