Nebyou Berhe said he was pulled over by police so often on his way to work directing the morning news for Channel 47 (KGPE) News that he started leaving his home earlier in order to arrive at his job by 3 a.m.
Berhe is black. For a long time, he assumed he was being pulled over because he did something wrong. But each time, he said, police would ask for his identification and he would leave without a ticket.
“I realized it’s not who you are, it depends on what you look like,” Berhe said. “I’m tired of living in fear.”
Berhe spoke at a rally in downtown Fresno on Thursday morning before a public meeting in response to the state’s Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015.
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Leaders from the community organizing network PICO California and clergy from across the Valley held signs reading “We are not the targets” and chanted “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”
The law aims to curb racial profiling by mandating that police publicly report race and other demographic characteristics of people stopped by officers, as well as citizen complaints alleging racial and identity profiling.
It created the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board, which is tasked with drafting and implementing the regulations to determine how data will be collected. Later, the board also will analyze the data submitted by law enforcement agencies.
Data released last year by Fresno’s police auditor showed black residents are more likely to be interviewed or detained by police than other races in cases where a suspect’s description isn’t provided or a specific crime hasn’t been reported.
The advisory board held its third meeting seeking public comment about the regulations in Fresno. The first two meetings were in Los Angeles and Sacramento.
Rosa Aqeel, associate director of PolicyLink, a research institute advancing economic and social equity in Oakland, said the turnout at Fresno’s meeting was the highest she has seen so far.
On Thursday, people shared experiences of racial profiling and police brutality at a news conference before the meeting and repeated them during the meeting. One black man said he was detained and shot with a stun gun for standing outside his apartment complex. A black woman tearfully told the board about the time she called police for help and ended up with an officer’s gun pointed at her. The mother of Colby Friday, who was shot and killed by a Stockton police officer last year, also spoke.