Mass. Supreme Judicial Court: Black Men May Have Good Reason to Run From Police

According to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, black men who try to avoid Boston police by fleeing may have a reason to.

Members of the Boston Police Department, including Police Commissioner William Evans (right) and Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross (second from left), listen to proceedings during a hearing over the issue of body cameras for Boston police officers at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Sept. 6, 2016.
Members of the Boston Police Department, including Police Commissioner William Evans (right) and Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross (second from left), listen to proceedings during a hearing over the issue of body cameras for Boston police officers at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Sept. 6, 2016. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Jimmy Warren was arrested Dec. 18, 2011, in Roxbury, Mass., after being approached by police who thought that he met a vague suspect description. He was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, but on Tuesday, the state’s highest court threw out the gun conviction, WBUR News reports.

Warren was originally stopped because he, along with another man with him, was wearing dark clothing, which was similar to the description of suspects the officers were looking for. Police approached Warren, and he and the other man ran.

According to WBUR News, in its findings, the court ruled that the police didn’t have a right to stop Warren in the first place, and the fact that he ran should not be used against him.

A 2014 ACLU report found that between 2007 and 2010, 63 percent of Boston police encounters were with black people, even though the city’s population was only being 24 percent black at the time.

“The state’s highest court, in talking about people of color, it’s saying that their lives matter, and under the law, their views matter,” said Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “The reason that’s significant is that all the time in police-civilian encounters, there are disputes about what is suspicious and what is not suspicious. So this is an opinion that looks at those encounters through the eyes of a black man who might justifiably be concerned that he will be the victim of profiling.”

The Boston Police Department also did its own analysis, according to WBUR News, and found that blacks were 8 percent more likely to be stopped repeatedly by police and 12 percent more likely to be searched and frisked.

Read more at WBUR News.

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