For Black People, Even Walking Across The Street Is A Risk

NYPD officers
via flickr
William Anderson
January 15, 2020

New information shows the police are targeting Black people for jaywalking in the biggest city in the nation. The problem isn’t exclusive to one place, though, because jaywalking is an issue for Black people in many cities. The way we’re targeted is disproportionate and unfair in the worst way.

“89.5 percent of [jaywalking] tickets … went to blacks or Hispanics” in New York City in 2019 according to the city’s data. Though the city doesn’t issue these tickets a lot, when it does, it’s often to target Black people. Don’t think that it’s just a New York issue either. It’s happening nationwide.

In Jacksonville, Florida, the city is only 29% Black but Black people are more than half of those charged for jaywalking. In Sacramento, California Black people make up 15% of the population, but we were 50% of those who received jaywalking citations between 2016 and 2017.

It’s not a recent problem, either - this goes back some years. Black people were almost 90% of jaywalking arrests in Champaign, Illinois between 2007 and 2011 and 95% in Ferguson, Missouri between 2011 and 2013. These numbers are not a coincidence!

The more we understand all the ways that Black people are ensnared by the criminal justice system, the better. A jaywalking citation can lead to unnecessary interaction with the police that means arrest or worse. Authorities know this, and they’re using it to target Black people every day!

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