In the midst of spotlighting police as being racist and police brutality taking over the news and social media – especially on sites such as tumblr and twitter – it cannot go unnoticed that women are also a huge target for some police officers. A police sees a young woman doing something that the general public does not know is illegal and there he has it – an easy target with what he thinks will be little to no fight and may give the feeling of being strong and powerful.
Recently, I stepped into the street to cross with two younger girls (one of them 11 years old) just as the signal started counting down from twenty to get coffee at the Starbucks across the street. After stopping all of traffic in the middle of a major intersection thus causing a huge scene, an officer screamed at us to stop and proceeded to give us all tickets for “jaywalking”. This sounds ridiculous, but after watching this same officer hand out tickets to four other women in the short amount of time of getting coffee, I felt personally offended and targeted by this particular officer. Was he just having a bad day? Is it possible he was making good on his ticket quota for LAPD? As the 6 foot man stared down at the three of us, I felt uncomfortable as he explained while writing the tickets that we would get a courtesy note in the mail with a court date on it within the next two weeks. Instead of receiving one of those, two months later I got a fine of $900 for missing the court date plus a hold on my drivers license, even after trying to pay off the what was supposed to be $220 bullshit ticket online which could not be found. This enraged me and really made me feel that the officer who wrote our tickets took advantage of us because we were female. And, in witnessing that he gave 7 tickets in the span of 15 minutes – all to young women – I felt he abused his power.
As police targeting minorities is a prominent news story, I can’t help to think, where does targeting women fit in? Through my research I found that although this officer was sexist in his actions, women are actually LESS likely to get tickets for the same misdemeanors or crimes than men or minorities. I also found while researching my offense that jaywalking tickets were on the rise in LA because according to an LAPD lieutenant, “pedestrians [are] impeding traffic and causing too many accidents and deaths”. So basically the LAPD is targeting pedestrians at high traffic cross walks for the faults of reckless drivers.
Obviously, not all officers of the law are “bad” or racist or target minorities, but this being said, we are not the only three young women this has happened to and the issue of women as easy targets needs to be recognized as an issue in the media amongst the anti-racism discussions. Most, like one of my uncles (who is a LAPD Detective), become officers to protect and serve our community. As the saying goes, one bad egg does not spoil the dozen.