Torrance Police Accused of Racial Profiling
Robert Taylor, a 62-year-old resident of Torrance and the pastor of Door to Heaven Global Ministries in Inglewood, filed a complaint with the Torrance Police Department over a March 4 incident he believes was racial profiling. Taylor had picked up his 15-year-old daughter from school and was driving in their neighborhood when police stopped him, told him to exit the vehicle, instructed him to raise his hands, and frisked him. Police claim that they stopped the minister because they thought he fit the description of a robbery suspect. But Taylor disputes that reasoning because the suspect was described as a man in his 30s, while he is decades older.
Racial profiling has historic precedents in California. In the early days of statehood, black men were presumed to be runaway slaves. Indians and Latinos were commonly pursued as horse thieves.
But racial profiling became rampant with the onset in the 1980s and 1990s of the "War on Drugs." In 1986, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency rolled out a federally funded highway drug interdiction program known as Operation Pipeline. The program trained officers to make "pretext stops"--pull drivers over for minor traffic violations and search their cars--based on a racially biased profile of drug couriers. Despite the fact that African Americans and Latinos are not any more likely than whites to be carrying drugs or other contraband, they became the main targets of Operation Pipeline.
In 2003, the California Highway Patrol settled a racial profiling lawsuit and prohibited pretext stops and racial profiling.
In the summer of 1963, members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and other groups demonstrated at the Southwood Rivers housing development in Torrance. They accused Don Wilson, the developer, of excluding African Americans from the neighborhood. Wilson called the police, who arrested protestors for trespassing. Weeks of jostling among the developer, protestors and the city followed. Demonstrators engaged in a "sit-out," blocking the driveway of the tract sales office. The city council passed an ordinance prohibiting individuals from being on the streets surrounding the development at night on weekends. Eventually, CORE agreed to limit demonstrations in the tract to two pickets, one day a week, and the city dropped all charges against the more than 200 protestors.