There are millions of cars on the road today and even more to come. By 2018, it is presumed that there will be more than 260 million cars driving on U.S. roads. With more cars on the road comes an increase in traffic violations.
But black people are already being pulled over at a disproportionate rate. In 2014, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 13% of black drivers nationwide had been stopped at least once since 2011, while only 10% of white drivers were pulled over in the same timeframe.
In 2015, the New York Times also issued an analysis of police-driver contact and concluded there were “wide racial differences in measure after measure of police conduct” including in Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown was killed, as well as in Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina, and Rhode Island, which have the most comprehensive traffic data.
In addition to being pulled over more frequently, black drivers were 1.5 to 5.2 times more likely to have their vehicles searched than white drivers were.
Racial profiling, targeting, and poor police relations have launched the Black Lives Matter movement, which became nationally recognized after Michael Brown’s death.
While #BlackLivesMatter was trending after George Zimmerman’s acquittal in 2013, it was the Ferguson riots and nationwide protests that ignited the fire and launched the movement to its current caliber. Demonstrations continue, following more instances of police brutality and unlawful deaths of black individuals.
On a July night in St. Anthony, Minnesota, Philando Castile was pulled over by a police officer. According to his mother, he’d been pulled over at least 45 times before.
“I was the one upset about it. He didn’t get upset about it,” said Valerie Castile. “I told him, ‘They’re getting behind you, they’re running your license plate, and once they figure it out, they’re going to pull you over, even though you haven’t done anything.'”
But this wasn’t like any other stop that Castile had endured before. That night, Castile was shot dead by the officer.
New data shows that St. Anthony Police have been disproportionately stopping and ticketing black drivers for years.
Between January 2011 and early July 2016, more than 9,000 traffic citations were issued between the three neighborhoods that it patrols: St. Anthony, Lauderdale and Falcon Heights, where Castile was killed.
Castile was in the car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter when he was pulled over. After informing the police officer that he had a gun and a permit to carry, he reached for his license and registration and was shot multiple times.
The data from St. Anthony PD says that tinted or broken taillights prompted 650 traffic stops, and that 44% of those pulled over were African-American. It is important to note that the three neighborhoods that St. Anthony PD patrols are predominantly white, with a black population of only about 7%.