Atatiana Jefferson Shooting- A Grim Reminder That Racial Profiling of Black Teens Could Turn Violent

Sirens blare in the background, blue and red flashes blur freshman Kiki’s vision. She can hear the walkie talkie sound coming from the police car. Kiki could only imagine why such a commotion would stir up due to skin color. Kiki’s father was accused of speeding and then searched for no reason.

On October 12, Atatiana Jefferson, an African-American woman was shot when the police was called to do a wellness check on the home. Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew in the living room at the time as SWAT team came into the home and shot her. Since then, Aaron Dean, the officer who shot Jefferson, has resigned from the department and has been charged with murder. But for many African-Americans, the shooting of Atatiana Jefferson is another reminder of the ongoing discrimination, racial profiling, and sometimes even brutality they have to face from the police. 

According to the finding on a Stanford University study, African-American drivers have a 20% chance of being given a ticket or pulled over than white drivers. 

Kiki has observed that her father has been pulled over more times and ticketed by the police than non-black drivers.

“My mother has never been pulled away from a group due to her race, but my dad has. Not all the time, obviously, but at times he does get pulled away since he is surrounded by a lot of white women, or relatives, and looks ‘suspicious’. He also got pulled over once when I was in the car because he was ‘speeding’ but he was at the speed limit and they searched the car,” Kiki said. 

Kiki recalls her fears of brutality and violence each time her father got pulled over. 

“[I was] horribly scared. I knew the officer couldn’t really do anything, or at least that is what I hoped. I had heard of some cases where people were taken away even though they did nothing wrong. I was scared that was going to happen to my dad just over the fact he was ‘speeding,’” Kiki said.  

Other CVHS students have had similar  experiences. Freshman Jake was at a convenience store with some friends when he and his brother were pulled away and checked for theft, even though they had done nothing wrong. 

“I felt scared like anything because I thought that we were going to get in trouble for no reason. I didn’t want my brother get in trouble either. Truth is I thought at first that he might of stole something but when he didn’t I was just scared that my parents or the law my get involved over something we didn’t do,” Jake said. 

Jake’s experience is reminiscent of a publicized incident earlier this year when a TX Kroger manager had four African-American teenagers arrested for theft after they purchased items at the register.

“I do feel like my opportunities get stripped away due to my race because I personally feel like society is to judgmental. If you think about it, minority groups are called minorities for a reason. The minorities are often not given a chance due to race and its sickening. I think we should change it by just leaving prejudices of appearance behind us,” Jake said. 

In terms of traffic stops, even though African-Americans only make up 12 percent of the city’s population, the Houston Police Department reports African-Americans account for 36% of HPD’s traffic stops.

Kiki believes a more diverse police force would help lessen problems of racial profiling.

“When you go to an officer you are likely to see less black workers than white workers. It’s horrendous and outright crazy how people can judge over skin color to this day.”