Alexes Harris: How pretext traffic stops fund police departments — and put Black drivers in danger

protest outside police precinct with demonstrators holding a yellow and black banner that reads "JUSTICE FOR DAUNTE WRIGHT"

Alexes Harris' essay in Vox breaks down the "pretext traffic stop," which is typically when law enforcement stop a vehicle for a minor traffic or equipment violation and then uses the stop to investigate a more serious crime. Recent studies suggest that non-safety related traffic stops do little to prevent accidents or increase driver safety. In light of the killing of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis, Harris' analysis discusses how people of all races break the law, but enforcement comes down to skin color. 

"The problem with pretext traffic stops is that when police use their discretion to decide who to pull over, they disproportionately pull over Black drivers more than white drivers, particularly within predominantly Black communities. As a result, Black drivers are searched 1.5 to 2 times as often as white drivers. The practice of pretext traffic stops allows police to surveil communities of color, over-patrol them, and pull people over.

These stops lead to frequent negative encounters between members of the Black community and the police that can result in violence, trauma, and even death."

Read the full article at Vox

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