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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

April 11, 2006

Written by C.N.

Racial Profiling Against Indian Convenience Stores

I wrote previously how, in the growing battle against methamphetamines, some law enforcement officials in Georgia have been accused of singling out South Asian-owned stores for sting operations. This week, the ACLU has made those allegations formal by filing suit against Georgian law enforcement, charging them with racial profiling and taking advantage of the South Asians’ lack of English fluency:

The A.C.L.U. said yesterday that prosecutors ignored extensive evidence that white-owned stores were selling the same items to methamphetamine makers and focused instead on South Asians to take advantage of language barriers. The sting sent informants to convenience stores in six counties in rural northwest Georgia beginning in 2003 to buy ingredients that can be used to make the drug — ordinary household items like Sudafed, matches, aluminum foil and charcoal.

Prosecutors said the clerks should have known that the ingredients would be used to make methamphetamine because the informants who bought them said they needed the items to “finish up a cook,” slang for making the drug. But several South Asians said they believed that the informants were talking about barbecue. Forty-four of the 49 people charged were Indian, and 23 out of 24 stores in the sting were owned or operated by Indians. . . .

Of the 629 convenience stores in the six-county area in the sting, 80 percent are owned or operated by whites, according to the A.C.L.U.’s court filing, but fewer than 1 percent of the stores in the sting are white-owned or operated. The filing said the clerk at the only white-operated store was known widely as a methamphetamine addict whose husband was in prison for making the drug.

If this isn’t a blatant case of racial profiling, I don’t know what is. This is the kind of prejudice and discrimination that still exists against Asian Americans that makes my blood boil. Clearly the law enforcement officials felt that the South Asian store owners and workers were an easier target because of their lack of English fluency.

I also suspect there was some racial prejudice involved as well, since law enforcement in the south does not have a good reputation when it comes to being sensitive to the issues of people of color through the years. Whatever the case may be, I can only hope that the ACLU and racial justice prevails in this case and the racial profiling is exposed for the blatant racism that it is.

People of color in this country (and all around the world for that matter) should be outraged at this example of racial profiling.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Racial Profiling Against Indian Convenience Stores" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/04/racial-profiling-against-indian-convenience-stores/> ().

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