5.22.2007

Driving While Latino: Racial Profiling in Suffolk County

In a continuing assault on Latinos, police in Suffolk County are now targeting and arresting Latino drivers. The official reason is that they're cracking down on unlicensed drivers, but that's a fig leaf. The real targets are Latino workers.

While County Executive Steve Levy (D) claims that the policy is being implemented uniformely across the county's 7 police precincts, Chau Lam, a Newsday reporter, found otherwise. Lam's report, More Hispanic drivers nabbed, shows that almost 70% of all arrests made between April 11-May 2 were made in Brentwood and Central Islip--the two communities with the largest numbers of Latino residents.

Additionally, fully 77% of those arrested across the County were Latino--although Latinos represent about 10% of the population and a negligible percent of the county's DUI cases.

Brian Trodden, an attorney who represents other undocumented immigrants, including Russians, Poles and Chinese had this to say: "We don't see anyone else taken into custody. I don't know how else you explain it. It's definitely racial profiling."