While wearing a face mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is the current trend, a large population of Americans fear for their own safety while wearing homemade face masks.
As COVID-19 continues to spread across our nation, the CDC recommends that we all wear cloth face coverings/mask when in the public. Additionally, many states and employers are requiring wearing of face masks. The CDC further clarifies that surgical masks or N-95 respirators are for medical use. The general public should cover their face with cloth fabric coverings.
In mid-March, two black men, wearing surgical masks, recorded a viral video when they were asked by police to leave a Wood River, IL Wal-Mart. In an interview with a local newspaper, one of the men shared the reasoning for posting the video. “We just want to shine some light because this happens so often.” The police department claims a miscommunication surrounding polices of prohibiting masks and recommendations from the CDC.
Jermon Best, who posted the video under the name Halo Dale, expressed his underlying fears of racial profiling. “Being a young African-American male, it’s kind of hard when you interact with the police because you don’t know what state of mind they’re in.”
Best is not alone in his concerns. Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans, shared with Time that wearing cloth face masks is a cause of trepidation for the African American and Latino population.
“For people to use a bandana, it invites racial profiling. It conjures up every racial stereotype that we have to fight against when it comes to African American men and Latino men.”
Anti-Bias Police Training
Moreover, the use of cloth face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will continue to rise. Professor of criminal justice John DeCarlo suggests that police departments begin now with the process of educating officers about cloth face masks and how to avoid issues.
On April 17th, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray urging federal law enforcement agencies to “provide anti-bias training and guidance” to police officers according to a report by CNBC. The letter, shared with the Associated Press stated, “With the ongoing public health emergency, it is more important than ever for law enforcement to build trust with communities of color”.
The vast majority of police officers Atlanta and Georgia are ethical and committed. Nonetheless, law enforcement officers have a great deal of power and they have been known to make mistakes. It is not uncommon to hear of police brutality in its many forms.
Police misconduct takes many forms including:
- Unnecessary and degrading strip searches
- Racial profiling
- Unnecessary physical violence
- Sexual assault
- Abuse of power to blackmail or coerce you into doing things you are not entirely comfortable with
If you have experienced police brutality of any kind, including racial profiling, it is important to know that you can legally fight back. One of your first steps should be to seek the help of an experienced attorney, such as the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines.
Standing up against police misconduct and racial profiling can prevent your neighbors and future generations from experiencing the same brutality.