"Driving while black" isn't a real crime, but it might as well be. African-Americans and people of color persistently report being stopped, searched, cited and even arrested for traffic offenses in situations where white people probably wouldn't be. Yet people of color don't break the law at a higher rate than whites. If anything, a recent study found, whites are more likely to do so.
Imagine you're headed down the highway and are signaled to pull over by an official state vehicle. It's the Iowa Department of Transportation, and they say they spotted a traffic violation you committed a couple of miles back. They issue you a $150 ticket.
When an African-American woman from Waterloo named Scottize Brown was pulled over in 2015, it had little to do with her behavior. The officer who pulled her over had run the license plate on the vehicle she was driving and learned that the owner had alleged gang affiliations.
The dashcam video of a Des Moines police stop involving two African-American men, Montray Little and Jared Clinton, has been viewed over 9 million times.
Always be respectful when interacting with law enforcement. At the same time, to be aware that when the police are questioning you about a potential crime, they are not on your side. Explaining your side of the story will not clear things up. In fact, it's best to avoid saying more to the police than you absolutely have to.
The Iowa State Fair has started, and will run through August 20. While fairgoers can look forward to Grandstand entertainment, rides, fair food and the Butter Cow, others could find themselves with a wristband they didn't ask for: handcuffs.
"This empowerment of local law enforcement to determine the substance of Fourth Amendment protections in the context of warrantless inventory searches and seizures of automobiles is rich with irony," Justice Brent R. Appel of the Iowa Supreme Court wrote recently, "as the Fourth Amendment was explicitly designed as a bulwark to restrain law enforcement in the context of searches and seizures."
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of criminal defendants to fully confront the witnesses and evidence against them. That includes DNA evidence, but it can be difficult to apply that right to the forensic software used to match genetic material from crime scenes to that of a defendant. Why? The software's underlying algorithms, source code, user manuals, internal validation studies and other crucial technical details are trade secrets, often owned by private companies.