Philadelphia racial equity bill bans police from making stops for minor violations

Posted 47 days ago


The Philadelphia City Council passed a bill aimed at closing racial inequalities that will ban police from making traffic stops for minor violations.

"Being pulled over by law enforcement is a rite of passage for Black men. It's something we all know that we're gonna have to go through," Councilmember Isaiah Thomas said of the bill. "I've been pulled over so many times that I've actually lost count."

People of color are 3.4 times as likely to be pulled over than White drivers, according to an analysis by WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. Advocates of the bill argue these stops are a pretext to searching vehicles, which leads to a distrust for police among Black and Latino drivers.

Thomas recalled an incident in which he was pulled over for having a broken taillight, only discovering that it wasn't broken the next day when he took it to a mechanic. According to Philadelphia Public Defenders' Police Accountability Unit head Michael Mellon, a broken light is the most common minor violation drivers in the city are pulled over for.

In a 14-2 vote, the council decided to ban that and other minor violations that do not pose an imminent threat to safety.

Mellon said that he has driven in Philadelphia his entire life, including through some of the city's most policed neighborhoods for investigations. But as a White man, Mellon said he has never been pulled over by Philadelphia police.

"The only real answer we have here is that there's a racial bias in... (Read more)