Colin Kaepernick began the “take a knee” protest by NFL players as a stance against the gross injustice of police killing black men.


By the time this is being read, the Miami Dolphins, and the rest of the teams in the National Football League (NFL), may – or may not – have settled on yet another iteration of the policy towards players who stand or sit when the Star Spangled Banner is being played or sung.

If the owners of those teams wanted further proof of the racism that permeates the country, and law enforcement, in particular, they needed to look no further than the fortuitously timed release on July 19 of a more that 50-page report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and the University of Miami (UM) detailing rampant prejudice in Miami-Dade County’s criminal justice system.

The study, “Unequal Treatment: Racial Bias and Ethnic Disparities in Miami-Dade Criminal Justice System,” was co-authored by Nick Petersen and Marisa Omori, assistant Sociology professors at UM. Graduate students Brandon Martinez, Rachel Lautenschlager and Oshea Johnson assisted with research.

The ACLU, in a statement, said the investigation originated in 2015 during “the epidemic” of police killings of black men. UM described it as “the first to examine the role of both race and ethnicity across multiple stages of the criminal justice system and at the individual and neighborhood level.”

“By following the cases of all adults who were arrested and booked into jail between 2010 and 2015, the researchers found that racial and ethnic disparities accumulate as defendants move through key phases of the system – arrest, bond and pretrial detention, charges and case disposition and sentencing,” the ACLU and UM stated in separate releases. The survey findings include: * Blacks “experience greater rates of arrest, pretrial detention, conviction and incarceration.” Black Latinos suffer the worst of the discrimination.

* “Defendants arrested in black neighborhoods have higher rates of arrest, pretrial detention, prosecution, conviction and incarceration, producing punishment ‘hotspots’ in some black neighborhoods.”

* “Neighborhood disparities increase across each stage of the criminal justice system, creating a ‘geographic funnel’ for some black, and especially black Hispanic neighborhoods, producing ‘collateral consequences’ for those communities.

In terms of numbers, the study found that, over a six-year period, non-Latino blacks, who comprise 17 percent of the county, were 38 percent of those arrested by more than 30 police departments; for black Latinos, the statistics were even more dire: they are two percent of the population but “were arrested four times more, convicted 5.5 times more and incarcerated six times more than their share of the population.”

Significantly, the UM release noted that over the six-year period of the study, more than half of those arrested were not prosecuted, leading to the suggestion “that aggressive police tactics at the front end of the system inflict collateral damage on those most likely to remain in the system.”

“After all,” the release pointed out, “even in the absence of a conviction, black defendants are more likely to be detained pre-trial, for longer periods of time, likely subjecting them to greater financial and personal hardships.”