Oakland Public Forum on Police Racial Profiling Study Gets Heated

Racial profiling is a problem in Oakland, according to the findings in an ongoing Stanford University study commissioned by the city, and a public discussion Thursday evening about possible solutions grew heated.

Dozens of people showed up for the discussion on how to stop racial profiling. What started out as a calm gathering turned a bit sour when one man expressed anger and then an official called for an end to the study.

One man said he’s fed up with racial profiling and yelled at the crowd as well as at city officials.

Another man, Darius Simmons, said he’s stopped all the time because of the color of his skin.

"You got the police saying you’re somebody else, and they think you’re the same person," Simmons said. "How do I match, you know? We don’t even look alike."

The study, launched by Stanford’s Jennifer Eberhardt in 2016, finds the Oakland Police Department has a problem.

"Thanks to Stanford," police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said. "They have taught us how to think about the data. It’s one thing to collect the data; it’s another thing to ask questions of the data."

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also commented, saying accepting the data and making changes accordingly is the first step toward progress.

But Councilwoman Desley Brooks blamed the mayor for not doing enough to stop racial profiling. Brooks is not sure the Stanford study needs to continue.

"She is the one who has failed to do anything with respect to racial profiling," Brooks said of Schaaf. "I believe Dr. Eberhardt has done some very good work with the city of Oakland, but it wasn’t the original work we contracted for. We contracted to address racial disparities. Despite all the work she has done, that issue has not been addressed."

The Stanford contract will be discussed at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

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