As Patrols Spread, Citizens Taught To ‘Know Your Rights’

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“Know Your Rights” training programs are being held by lawyers and community activists in neighborhoods in urban cities nationwide, designed to help residents understand the limits of police authority, reports The Atlantic. Kimberly Enjoli, who has lived in New York City’s Crown Heights neighborhood for nine years, came to the Know Your Rights training to respond to an escalating police presence in her community. “There were just police walking up and down the block, patrolling,” she said. “I imagine the new residents feel safer having more police around, but I don’t,” she added. “It of course makes me anxious as a black person who watches the news.”

Social psychologists who have worked with criminologists have established “that police have been conditioned to think that crime is something black people do,” said Delores Jones-Brown of the John Jay College Center on Race, Crime and Justice. Police have been shown to have an implicit bias, particularly in dealing with black and brown people, she said. “People are entitled to individual assessments of whether or not they are involved in criminality. To assume criminality when you see a black or brown young man is just wrong. It is legally wrong and morally wrong and ethically wrong.” Jones-Brown added that police departments are more willing to train their officers now than they have been in the past.

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