Opinion: Racial profiling is occurring, and it must be stopped
Unfortunately, lots of people of different ethnicities in our state of Vermont are racially profiled at least once in their life, creating horrible memories.
For instance, Hal Colston, an African American, has been pulled over numerous times, for no legitimate reason. He recounted the following experience in the Burlington Free Press on April 1, 2007. In the winter of 2006, he was driving his son to Burlington so his son could visit with a friend. His son needed to drop some of his belongings off, so they stopped at his son’s Burlington apartment. It was dark out, and while Hal Colston was waiting for his son to come back out of his apartment, a police cruiser drove very slowly down the road, which happened to be a dead end. He stared at Hal Colston, looked him up and down, and their eyes met. The son came back and got in the car, and Hal Colston continued to drive into Riverside Avenue.
It turned out that the cruiser was waiting around the bend. The cruiser followed Hal Colston for a while longer, but for no reason, because Hal Colston was going the speed limit and had all his lights functioning. Then, the cruiser turned on his lights. Hal Colson pulled over, and the two officers stepped out. One asked for his identification, and the other shone the light in the car. Five minutes passed and Hal Colston’s son was getting fidgety because this had happened before many times, and his voice was getting louder and louder, asking why this happened to them, and that they didn’t do anything wrong, until Hal Colson told him that if he didn’t stop talking, he was going to get them both into physical danger. Five minutes later, the police officer came back and gave the identification cards back, and said that they were looking for a black Honda with two occupants. Hal Colson and his son were driving a black Saab.
Then, surprisingly, the officer apologized. Hal Colston thought that maybe the officer realized that he wasn’t a drug dealer, or maybe he recognized him. Hal Colston thanked him, and the cruiser drove away, his lights flashing. The police didn’t have any right to pull Hal Colston over; he never did anything wrong for them to pull him over. Therefore their actions were unacceptable.
In our interview with Mr. Colston, he expressed his concern that if racial profiling in Vermont continues, African Americans will move away from Vermont, and “they’ll tell 10 of their friends, ‘hell no, forget Vermont, that’s not the way to go!’” Those friends will continue to tell their friends, etc., etc., and our reputation about how police treat African Americans and how much we use racism and racially profile will spread. Mr. Colston is worried that African Americans will not want to move to our state.
In conclusion, lots of people of different ethnicities in our state of Vermont are racially profiled at least once in their life, creating horrible memories. We hope that you now understand how awful racial profiling is.
Emma Campbell and Katelyn Benson
Mount Abraham Union Middle School