Earlier this month, Steve Foster of Concord, Calif., made headlines when he was detained by BART police for—wait for it—“illegally eating.”
And while many believe it was merely an isolated incident instead of the latest example of overzealous police selectively enforcing the law, a new report makes it explicitly clear that this type of behavior is par for the course.
According to the San Francisco Examiner, more than 80 percent of the 55 people cited since Oct. 2014 for police code violations related to eating and drinking on BART were people of color:
African Americans were cited most frequently for consuming food or drinks on BART, with a total of 33 citations given to black passengers. Latino and “other” ethnic groups comprised the second largest group cited since Oct. 1, 2014, with 13 citations.
White passengers comprised just nine of the citations, and the ethnicity of one person cited in the time period for which data was requested was marked as “unknown.”
And before you go, “Well, don’t a higher percentage of black folks ride BART than their white counterparts?”
SPOILER WARNING: Nope.
Lemmie show you something.
And if you really wanna go there, this graph means that black commuters are six times more likely to be cited for eating or drinking. But let’s call a thing a thing: this is racial profiling.
“I’m not surprised the enforcement over food has been largely black and brown,” Darrell Owens, an East Bay housing and transportation advocate, told SF Gate. “A black man in a hoodie eating a sandwich is perceived differently than a white man in a suit drinking a coffee, though both are breaking the law.”
For his infraction, not only was Foster unnecessarily humiliated, but he was required to either pay a $250 fine or complete 48 hours of community service. This not only sounds excessive but a mechanism to deliberately ensnare black people in the criminal justice system.
“Eating a sandwich is certainly not a reason to throw yet another black body into the criminal justice system,” Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project in Oakland, told the Guardian. “We have to hold these cops accountable for racial profiling.”