Programs aimed at keeping a lookout for potential terrorists supposedly are not about profiling, but an analysis of suspicious activity reports of incidents at the Mall of America near Minneapolis, by NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting suggests that the Mall of America may be questioning people based partly on their appearance. From the more than 1,000 pages of suspicious activity reports examined, almost two-thirds of the “suspicious” people whom the Mall reported to local police were minorities. The U.S. population is more than 70 percent white, and whites account for 85 percent of the population in Minnesota.
Last summer, Nauman Tariq pulled out of the Mall of America parking lot with his father sitting beside him in the car. Suddenly a police car started tailgating them with its lights flashing. Two more cruisers moved in. “I mean this kind of stuff you see in the movies, like cops coming up, and pulling over and surrounding you,” Tariq, a brain specialist at three hospitals in Minneapolis, says. “We can’t even imagine it’s going to happen to us for no reason.” The police ordered him out of the car, frisked him and put him in the back seat of a patrol car. On the officer’s computer, “My name was there on the laptop with my address and there was this highlighted sentence saying that [he was a] ‘possible terrorist threat,’ ” Tariq says.