Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ethnic bias in the law...

A sting by the Georgia authorities made news last year, when many store owners were caught selling ingredients that could be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Interestingly, many of the store owners and operators turned out to be of Indian origin !

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has accused federal investigators of ethnic bias in the operation.

In a legal filing, the A.C.L.U. said yesterday that prosecutors ignored extensive evidence that white-owned stores were selling the same items to methamphetamine makers and focused instead on South Asians to take advantage of language barriers.

Documents filed by the A.C.L.U. yesterday include a sworn statement from an informant in the sting, saying that federal investigators sent informants only to Indian-owned stores, "because the Indians' English wasn't good." The informant said investigators ignored the informant's questions about why so many South-Asian-owned stores were visited in the sting.

Other filings said prosecutors had several tips that more than a dozen white-owned stores were selling the same ingredients, but failed to follow up on them. According to a sworn statement from a witness, law enforcement officials tipped off a white store owner about the investigation and recommended ways to avoid scrutiny.

And here is the most interesting point...

Of 629 convenience stores in the six-county area in the sting, 80 percent are owned or operated by whites, according to the A.C.L.U.'s court filing, but fewer than 1 percent of the stores in the sting are white-owned or operated. The filing said the clerk at the only white-operated store was known widely as a methamphetamine addict whose husband was in prison for making the drug. None of the Indians charged are accused of using or making methamphetamine.

Of course it gets more interesting...

To date, he said, 23 defendants have pleaded guilty, and eight cases have been dismissed. Some of those cases were dismissed because prosecutors charged the wrong people because of confusion over names; more than 30 of the defendants share the common Indian surname Patel.

So, not only are they targetting Indian grocery store owners, but they also caught the wrong Indians, just 'cos their names were similar...and not just one or two, but eight people !

Where do these people get off by defending themselves after such deliberate bias has been proven ? Even the circumstantial evidence damns them...I mean, in an area where 80 % of the stores are white-owned, less than 1 % of the stores that formed a part of the sting are white-owned ! What possible explanations can the authorities have for this lopsided operation ? Did God visit from the heavens and inform them that only Indians are culpable for selling meth ingredients !

Previous posts on this issue : 1.

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