If you notice one of the following events, your rights might be being violated. Understand these issues so that you can recognize a civil rights violation and protect your rights.
Five Examples of Civil Rights Issues
1. The police are “profiling” you.
Profiling occurs when law enforcement targets people based on their race, perceived religion, sexual orientation, etc. If the police think that you are going to commit a crime or have committed a crime based solely on your race, that is racial profiling, and it is illegal. If you believe that you have been racially profiled, you can get help and protect your civil rights.
2. You’ve been attacked by the police and you didn’t provoke them.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not always against the law for a police officer to use force when dealing with the public. If it is reasonably necessary to protect themselves or others, the police can use force. However, the police need to use the appropriate amount of force for the situation that they are in. If they do not, they can commit “excessive force.” For example, if the police suspect that you have committed a crime and stop you, you tell them that you will cooperate and your actions are cooperative, but they physically assault you anyway, a case could be made that the force used against you was excessive.
3. You were denied something based on minority status.
It is against the law for you to be denied housing, a mortgage, a job, and other things based on your status as a racial minority. If this occurs, your civil rights might be violated.
4. You were discriminated against based on minority status.
Facing discrimination due to your gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, and other factors, is in many cases illegal. You can seek help for discrimination or harrassment against you based on this discrimination.
5. You had an interaction with the police in which they didn’t follow the law.
The police have certain procedures that they need to follow. For example, they need reasonable suspicion in order to pull your vehicle over. They need a warrant to search your home. If they violate the necessary procedures under law, you can use these facts to defend yourself.
Police Dos and Don’ts
Pull you over or stop you if they have reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime.
Pull you over or stop you due to your race.
Ask you if they can search your car or property.
Search you if you explicitly tell them that you do not consent (unless there are weapons/drugs in plain view).
Use force to subdue someone who is not cooperating or who is threatening them or others.
Use force when a suspect is cooperating with them.
Ask you questions.
Threaten you into answering their questions.
Use the force necessary to subdue a suspect.
Use excessive force.
Your Rights When Stopped By the Police
Keep in mind that if you are stopped by the police:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- You have the right to refuse a search of your person and property.
- If arrested, you have the right to a lawyer. If you can’t afford one, you can have a lawyer appointed to you for free.
If you think that you are witnessing police brutality:
- Stand at a safe distance.
- Record the event on your phone.
- Write down what you witnessed.
If you or a loved one is dealing with a civil rights issue, contact my office at 203-925-9200 to get help.