Profiling

June 4, 2021

When I went out to check on my bird feeders this week, I found one of them had been robbed.  This was a hanging suet feeder that had a new chunk of a berry and corn mix.  When I saw the cage open, I assumed the wind had knocked it open and the cake had fallen to the ground.  When I looked closer, I found the entire cake was missing.  I was also skeptical the wind could have opened the cage.  I have had it for over a year, and it had never happened before.  That made me think it was something large enough to carry the five-by-five-inch cake off, or at least to take it in large chunks.  It also needed to be an animal who liked suet cakes, or at least what was inside of them.  While I am not sure who the culprit was, I believe I can blame it on one of my squirrels.  I was profiling them as the usual suspect.

When I went to the ACLU website, I found that Racial Profiling refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin.  The criminal profiling generally practiced by police is the reliance on a group of characteristics they believe to be associated with crime.  Examples of racial profiling are the use of race to determine which drivers to stop for minor traffic violations (referred to as “driving while black or brown”), or the use of race to determine which pedestrians to search for contraband.  Most persons targeted by profiling walk away with a ticket, but too often the result can be death. 

I also found and article where the New York Times reviewed files of INS raids and found profiling to be prevalent in department reports released as part of the settlement of a garment workers union selective enforcement suit filed against the agency in New York City.  The settlement included a summary that Latinos were 96 percent of the 2,907 people arrested in the 187 worksite raids carried out by the INS in the district.  This was far greater than their representation in the city’s population, legal or illegal.  This occurred even where the INS acknowledged that half the workers were not Latino but Asian, including undocumented immigrants.  Undocumented workers were discovered and arrested in all but a few of the reviewed raids, but nearly all arrested were Latino.  Since it is illegal to hire undocumented workers, I always wonder why the business is rarely targeted?

Thoughts:  I find it interesting how quickly I default to my squirrels as the cause of any mayhem that happens in my back yard.  Since I did not see it happen and I have no evidence of who knocked the suet out of the feeder and then ran off with it, I will never really know.  That leaves me with conjecture, and when I assume I am profiling the animals in my yard.  Profiling my animals will not result in adverse effects toward them.  I have placed special squirrel food in one of the feeders and although I sometimes grimace when either the squirrels or the grackles invade the feeders, I generally leave them alone.  Studies have found our attitude about a person or group of individuals greatly alter our response.  When we assume someone is guilty of a crime it does not make them guilty.  Neither does assuming they are going to be violent make them violent.  However, it does affect the response.  While profiling makes our response easier, it rarely works well for the one being profiled.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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