Pubdate: Mon, 17 Jul 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company
Contact:  229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 556-3622
Author: Rachel Goldberg


To the Editor:

Re "Why Harlem Drug Cops Don't Discuss Race" ("How Race Is Lived in
America," front page, July 9):

You report the pressure that police officers experience from their
superiors to make drug arrests. This has resulted in rampant
violations of the rights of African-Americans and Hispanics. It was
unlawful for police in the article to detain and search men who stood
on the street near an apartment where drugs were found, since the men
had no connection to the drugs or the apartment.

White people are almost never treated this way. Yet the acceptance by
the courts of virtually any story that the police can concoct to
justify an arrest allows the police to continue racist and illegal
searches and detentions when the law does not allow it.

As long as we care more about the quantity of arrests than about their
legality, we are encouraging a lawless police force.

Rachel Goldberg
New York

The writer is a supervising attorney of the Legal Aid Society's
criminal defense division.
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