I really don't understand
Mood: confused
Posted on 2006-04-04 13:04:00
Tags: politics
Words: 285

(based on the news story Congresswoman could face charges)

So, let me get this straight. A congresswoman walked past security, not wearing her pin that identifies her as a congresswoman. The security guard doesn't recognize her and stops her. She gets upset, and an altercation ensues.

Now she's upset - here are some choice quotes from the article:

"I don't understand exactly why it is that certain police officers have a problem remembering my face," McKinney said, noting that she is one of 14 black women among the 535 members of Congress. "The issue is racial profiling, and that's something that we're going to have to deal with as a country."

Well, there are 535 members of Congress - that's a lot for every single police officer to remember on sight. And racial profiling?? If you don't have identification and you walk past security and get stopped, that's not racial profiling - that's common sense. And suggesting that it is racial profiling is demeaning to those who have been targeted by racial profiling. (crying wolf and all that)

In her interview Monday with CNN's "The Situation Room," McKinney scoffed at suggestions that her change of hairstyle in January might have been the reason the officer did not recognize her.

"If the security of the House of Representatives of the United States is based on how members of Congress wear their hair ... I think this is really ridiculous," she said. "My face hasn't changed."

No, the security of the House of Representatives depends on identifying people that enter the building. If she did change her hairstyle and the officer then didn't recognize her, she should show identification. What's the big deal?

Does anyone understand this better? I'm totally confused.


Comment from onefishclappin:

My take: Congresswoman isn't recognized by random security guard and when he tries to stop her and check her identification & touches her arm to get her attention, she stikes at him (slap, punch, cell phone, depending on the story.) She gets pissed off because she's a black woman and thinks that if she had been a white man, he would have let her pass anyway even if he wasn't certain as to her identity. Expecting every guard to instantly recognize every congressperson isn't reasonable. Being a member of a rather small minority (in congress), I would expect her to be recognized more easily than others, so I expect she had gotten used to always being recognized. She's expecting special treatment because of her race and position.

My thoughts: Why aren't identifications regularly checked by security? It sounds like a near-look a like could easily penitrate security, especially if they were assertive and keep walking. And it sounds like she wants this security hole to be preserved. Personally, I don't approve of anyone getting to bypass security. How do you know "trustworthy congressman X" hasn't recently had a mental breakdown, or is being impersonated, or is a stubborn old fart who likes taking his gun everywhere because he's always taken his gun everywhere. And what do we say when suddenly a weapon gets into the capital via this hole? Everyone was supposed to be checked right?

1) Security should check the identities (based on a photo ID or close personal recognition) of all people entering the building, especially those bypassing security.
2) When security stops someone to check their identity, they should stop and present it without delay. This is a standard procedure required of everyone.
3) If someone ignores security's request to stop and provide identification, they are allowed to use physical force to detain the person until their identity has been assertained. A touch on the arm of someone who is distracted and might have accidentally bypassed a security checkpoint is well within bounds.
4) If we eliminate any of these regulations, then the chances of unintended penitration by unchecked civilians is greatly raised, and presents a security risk.

So... rules should be followed and no one should expect special treatment because of their status or race or sex or disability or anything.

A frustrating thing is that I suspect there will be a fair amount of support in the black community for her side of the story because they are so used to inequality and injustice that the facts of the case will not matter. Supporting their "own" will be more important. Sigh.

Comment from gregstoll:

I agree that relying on a pin that's just a piece of jewelry is a pretty weak security measure. But maybe with all the people going in and out, it's what they have to do.

And yes, I can't find an article, but I read that she's getting a lot of support in the black community. I can see why it's happening, but sigh indeed.

Comment from djedi:

I mostly agree with y'all's comments here. To try to better understand her arguments, I think part of what she is saying is that she feels that she was stopped for 2 reasons: 1)Being a black woman, the cops assumed she didn't belong in the capitol. 2)The cops didn't recognize her because they don't pay attention to black people/all black people look alike.

I think the reason she objected to the showing identification is that perhaps many (most?) of the white, male representatives get special treatment and are recognized (at least in her perspective).

Comment from djedi:

As another note, we had 2 similar situations here at UT since I've been here.

One was an african-american male college student, call him Bob (since I don't remember the name). Bob was in the student center (in the upper floors which are students only) and just playing the piano waiting for a meeting. He was approached by an officer who demanded 2 forms of id (slightly unusual to ask for 2 forms) and that he justify why he was there. Now this area is open to all students (but only students). He was and looked like a young male college student. He objected to what he saw as unequal treatment especially since there were other white and asian students milling around but he was the only black one. There was some hoopla about it. The officer claimed that he was behaving suspiciously, although the only suspicious things she could point out was that he moved away from the piano away from her towards one of the exit doors (to a hallway to the meeting rooms) as she approached his direction. (He said he was going to his meeting as it was meeting time.) Why she demanded 2 forms of ID was because she thought the first was "suspicious".

Comment from gregstoll:

See, this does sound like racial profiling...

Comment from djedi:

Perhaps this situation really is similar to the capitol police one (minus the student getting somewhat violent). I dunno how enforced the procedures are for getting in to the capitol. If only the occasional minority representative is actually "carded" out of all the representatives going in and out...

Comment from gregstoll:

Well, but in the capitol police case people are gaining access to a building (as opposed to just being somewhere) - it seems that the "rules" should be a little different.

That said, if only minorities are "carded", that does sound bad. I just can't get over the fact that they're supposed to know 535 faces...

Comment from onefishclappin:

Yes, if they only "card" some (ie. minority/less desirables), that's not fair. My personal opinion is that they really should card *everyone* and I think that not even congressmen should be exempt from security checkpoints (metal detectors, bag screen). There's just too many holes: someone snuck something into a purse or bag at a restaurant, impersonation, elite people feeling like they don't have to follow the rules, etc.
I remember when Joseph was at the Wmson County Courthouse and he was allowed to bypass security, so took that as being allowed to carry a pocket knife, even though "weapons" weren't allowed. Because of protected status, the rules changes, which doesn't feel fair to me.

Comment from onefishclappin:

Oh, and he was very very common in this practice. The "right" people knew who they were and they were above the rules.

Comment from gregstoll:


Comment from djedi:

The other situation was a bit more egregious. Student are allowed to "put up" chalk advertisements on the ground to meetings and events in the "UT student mall" provided they get permission first. A black student was chalking the ground around 7 or 8pm one evening (this was winter so it was already pretty dark but the area is lit and he was in the center of a sidewalk, not "skulking") having gotten permission to do so when an officer snuck up behind him and tackled him "to the ground"...doing so in such a violent way that it "cracked his head open" on the a nearby bench. The poor student had to be taken to the hospital to get stitches (and xrays to make sure it wasn't a concussion). The officer claimed that he was afraid the student would run if he just walked up and asked for identification. The student claims he was accosted in such a violent way because he was black.

For note, while it is permissible to do a chalk advertisement not many do. You'll see a few each month.

Comment from gregstoll:

What?? Um, I'll take racial profiling plus using excessive force for $500, Alex...

Comment from djedi:

Yeah, I think the first officer was cleared of any wrongdoing but that the second one was "reprimanded".

Comment from tehfanboi:

Well teh security guy was doing his job. Stopping people who didn't have the appropriate identification, in this case a pin. Regardless slapping, hitting is NOT appropriate especially if you are supposed to be a leader of a community.

I don't think this says racial profiling, but it seems to me that minorities tend to lose credibility when they have episodes like this. Not every thing that happens is the natural continuation of Rosa Parks. And when they dress up these events like they are they not only distract from real problems that need our attention, they also make issues where there shouldn't be.

If she felt she was racially profiled, talk to that officers superior, don't hold a press conefernce.

Comment from onefishclappin:

Yup, no matter, she should have politely complied with his request and if she still felt like she was discriminated against, taken appropriate actions. It would really help her case instead of now, where she looks like a spoiled brat who feels she's above the law/rules.

Comment from wildrice13:

That's the way I see it. She looks to me like an egomaniac who's like, "I'm a Congresswoman! I'm important! Don't you know who I am?" And I'd be saying that if she was black, white, orange or purple. Not that I think it's unusual--that's often the type of person who gets into politics!

But yeah, I'd say what this calls for is an increase in security across the board. In fact, I'd say there's a very good argument that it's for their own protection. Say a Congressperson, even a 100% trustworthy one, were to bring some sort of weapon in past security--even say inadvertently, if you want. They forget to take a sharp knife out of their bag that they had used for lunch or something. Whatever. Then say some other person makes it past security without a weapon. That person subsequently gets a hold of that knife somehow, either by stealth or by direct assault and taking it. That person now has a weapon that they could potentially use against anyone on the inside, should they desire to. It just creates a security risk that is greatly avoidable for a little inconvenience. Why take that risk?

Comment from djedi:

Yeah, it does seriously take away from other much more important race issues and problems.

Comment from onefishclappin:

We aren't the only people who think she overreacted...
CNN poll

Comment from onefishclappin:

Grr... can't get the link to work, just check out the poll on CNN's homepage

Comment from gregstoll:

(the link's broken, btw).

Yeah, and I was glad to see that other Democrats are keeping their distance, too.

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