Palo Alto condemns racial profiling

November 11, 2008 12:25:56 AM PST
Monday night the city council voted to adopt a resolution, condemning racial profiling in Palo Alto. This was in response to a controversy created by comments Police Chief Lynne Johnson made at a recent public meeting.

The city council voted unanimously to condemn racial profiling in a resolution that reiterates the city's zero tolerance stance on profiling. It also allows an independent police auditor to review the police department's views on race.

All of this comes, 11 days after Chief Johnson said the following at a town hall meeting, after a series of muggings in the city.

"When our officers are out there and they see an African-American, in a congenial way, we want them to find out who they are," said Police Chief Lynne Johnson.

The chief apologized the next day and said she misspoke about the orders she gave her officers about stopping African-Americans on the streets of Palo Alto.

The chief has since been meeting with various community groups, including the Stanford NAACP, to develop a better relationship.

"You can change the policies all you want. If you don't change the people, you're still going to get the same results. You guys ought to be ashamed of yourselves, for real. It's disgusting," said Eric Stuart, a Palo Alto resident.

"I think she's doing the right thing. She may not have presented in the way people that people thought she should have, but the intentions are there," said Martha Hayes, a Palo Alto resident.

The meeting comes one day after a march took place from East Palo Alto to downtown Palo Alto, protesting the chief's remarks.

Still, the reaction to the city council's resolution, which came as a direct of the chief's comment, was mixed.

The chief was not at Monday's meeting, but she is expected to be at next week's city council meeting. At that time, she will be giving the city council a full report on her progress and outreach to the community.