California has earned a reputation as a safe haven for marginalized communities because of its predominantly liberal politics, legislation, and cultural diversity. However, the Golden State also has a racist history of police violence against the communities law enforcement has sworn to protect. According to data from 2019 that was obtained by advocacy groups Catalyst California and ACLU of Southern California, county sheriff departments across the state have recorded that sheriff patrols spend the vast majority of their time on-duty conducting racially based traffic stops.
Particularly in the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and Sacramento, law enforcement spent almost 90% of their time targeting Black Californians during pretextual stops, a predatory form of state violence by modern law enforcement that originates from slave patrols, vagrancy laws, and Jim Crow. Sacramento County's sheriffs department holds the distinction of maintaining the worst racial disparities in the entire state; Black drivers were 4.7 times more likely to be stopped by sheriff's deputies than white drivers, and Black pedestrians were 4.1 times more likely to be stopped than white pedestrians.
"The vast amount of time that law enforcement is out on patrol is counterproductive to community safety,” said Chauncee Smith, co-author of the report and Catalyst California’s senior manager of reimagine justice and safety. “It amounts to millions of dollars of public resources wasted on these racially biased practices.”
The nonstop state-sanctioned violence committed by law enforcement is the reason why we continue the fight for racial justice.