Yesterday I provided a quote from the remarkable dissent from People v Weaver, a 1991 Court of Appeals decision involving a drug profile. Today I’d like to share the reasoning (accepted by the Court’s majority, written by Judge Roger Wollman) as the basis of reasonable suspicion for a stop.
[An officer is waiting at the Kansas City Airport, watching people get off of a flight from Los Angeles at 6:45am]. As Weaver disembarked from Flight 650, he caught Officer Hick’s attention because he was a “roughly dressed” young black male who was carrying two bags and walking rapidly, almost running, down the concourse towards a door leading to a taxi stand. Because Hicks was aware that a number of young roughly dressed black males from street gangs in Los Angeles frequently brought cocaine into the Kansas City area and that walking quickly towards a taxicab was a common characteristic of narcotics couriers at the airport, he became suspicious that Weaver was a drug trafficker. – People v Weaver, 966 F.2d 391 (1992) (Judge Roger Wollman).
Wait, are you kidding me? A “roughly dressed” young black man walking swiftly towards a taxi-cab after getting off a 3 or 4 hour flight is suspicious, since Los Angeles is a source city for narcotics in the midwest?
I’ll say it again, are you kidding me? This is a classic example of the way judges – particularly federal judges – accept wholeheartedly and uncritically – the rationales that law enforcement make up for profiling in the war on drugs. While we can lay much blame for racial profiling on the police, the Judicial branch deserves its share of blame for allowing such travesties of justice.