Did your arrest come as a result of illegal racial profiling?

Racism is still a serious problem in the United States. Far too many people are quick to judge another human based on the color of their skin instead of the contents of their character. The sad result of prevalent racism is that it has infiltrated every aspect of American culture.

Even those who are supposed to do their jobs without racial bias often fall victim to their subconscious issues with people from other racial backgrounds. Law enforcement officers should respect the civil rights and freedoms of everyone they encounter and only detain or question those they suspect of illegal activity. Unfortunately, sometimes police engage in a practice known as racial profiling.

They might assume, because of the color of someone's skin, that they are more likely to have engaged in criminal actions, even if there is no immediate reason to believe a crime has taken place. Sometimes, an officer will stop someone because of racial profiling and then find a reason to arrest that person. If you believe your recent arrest was the result of racial profiling, you may be able to push back against that violation of your rights.

What reason did the officer provide for their initial contact?

Whether you are walking down the street or driving a car, a police officer has to have a reason to stop you and engage you.

Common reasons could include failing to use traffic signals or other minor infractions. Sometimes, however, officers cannot readily provide a reason. In that situation, profiling may have played a part in their decision to directly engage with you.

Do you fit the description of someone police were looking for?

After a crime, it is the duty of law enforcement to attempt to locate and apprehend the criminal(s) involved. All too often, officers receive vague or broad descriptions of alleged criminals. Just because someone says they saw someone of the same race and gender in the area do something wrong doesn't give law enforcement the broad right to detain any individual who fits the criteria.

Instead, other factors such as clothing, hairstyle, height or even proximity to the location of the crime should receive consideration. If you don't match specific characteristics of someone allegedly involved in the crime, it may not have been reasonable or appropriate for law enforcement to stop you in the first place.

Some officers let their own bias affect how they do their job

Some police officers will make a point of interacting with or stopping individuals who belong to a certain demographic. That decision may be conscious or subconscious, but it can have a chilling effect on a local community.

Officers must balance the duties of the job with the civil liberties of the people who live in Illinois. If you believe that law enforcement violated your civil rights through an unlawful arrest or an unnecessary search related to your race, it may be time to sit down with a Chicago attorney who understands police misconduct to talk about your rights.

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