A recent Missouri traffic stop report compiled by the state attorney general reveals that Black drivers are 85 percent more likely to be pulled over by police than white people. While not particularly shocking (see: American history), the numbers reflect a ten percent increase from the previous year, “and the largest disparity since 2000,” the year the state first began tracking the race of those pulled over, as noted by Vox.
The report also revealed that Black drivers are 51 percent more likely than white people to be searched after being pulled over. John Gaskin, a spokesperson for the St. Louis County chapter of the NAACP called the numbers “really deplorable” while talking to the Associated Press.
Of course, we also know that “driving while Black” is an obstacle faced by Black people all across the nation. In 2011, the Justice Department found that Black drivers were twice as likely to be searched after being stopped, with other cities making similar discoveries in following years.
“Sometimes we’ll hear the assertion that if you’re not doing anything wrong, the police won’t stop you. That is clearly untrue,” Alexandra Natapoff, a professor at the University of California Irvine’s School of Law, told Vox. “Police stop individuals, particularly individuals in communities of color, for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with whether that individual is committing a crime.”
Advocacy groups have since responded to Missouri’s latest findings. Nimrod Chapel Jr, president of the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP, told the Jefferson City News Tribune, “I am loathed that Missouri should still be the homeland for Jim Crow.”
“Something has to be done,” Chapel continued. “I know many officers around the state personally and have talked to many others, but unfortunately the numbers keep going up in many jurisdictions. The NAACP is looking at not only how data is collected and what it says, but also at the people charged with ensuring that everyone is protected equally.”
Last year, the state of Missouri issued a travel advisory for people of color, women, and anyone “perceived as a person of faith or disability.” Chapel added that the advisory will stay in place for the time being.