Posts Tagged ‘Racial profiling in Ocean Grove’



By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger    (Written but not posted in 2011)

America has been conflicted about race ever since Thomas Jefferson declared that “all men are created equal,” while he was the second largest slave owner in Virginia. Today, nearly fifty years after the Civil Rights movement won major victories in the sixties, the volume has once again been turned way up on racial issues—currently with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

This case brings to the forefront the subject of racial profiling as a tool in law enforcement. The controversial event began when a white Neighborhood Watch volunteer followed Mr. Martin, a black teenager, who was walking through a predominantly white gated community. It’s not yet clear that this qualifies as racial profiling, but the subject has been raised.

We have had a Neighborhood Watch program in Ocean Grove, but it is barely functioning.  There has been no formal patrolling function for the NW in the Grove, so there is no danger of a Trayvon situation occurring here, at least not by our Neighborhood Watch. In addition the police do not meet with the Neighborhood Watchers to give them some kind of training. The OG Citizens Patrols drive around and call the police if they see something worrisome, but they don’t get out of their cars to follow people.

The police ask us to call if we see something suspicious: “If you see something, say something.”

If a black teenager walks into the Grove alone or with friends, with or without hoodies, people notice. Some might be tempted to watch them or even call the police on the basis that blacks are relatively unusual here, but so are Orientals, Hassids, and frat boys. Calling just because of someone’s color or clothing is profiling. The only time the police should be called is if someone, regardless of color, is acting suspicious.

But there is a flip side to this. I know some Grovers who would have to be pushed pretty hard into calling about any black person in the Grove out of fear that they might be accused of profiling. But not calling when you should is at least as bad as calling when there is no concern.

Update:   Currently  (2015) the Neighborhood Watch is defunct, and the NTPD has made no effort to resurrect it. It might be a good idea as an adjunct program to keep our town safe, especially with nice weather (hopefully) coming in.   We have lots of kids running around town in the summer along with vulnerable tourists and seniors.

In February 2014 (see link below) we had a fascinating debate about profiling and security in Ocean Grove.  The comments had 36 responses.

a racial discussion in OG 2014

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014.  Ocean Grove, NJ.

On Feb. 9, we received a “warning about a scam” from an Ocean Grover, Mr. Robert Burns, who became alarmed when two young men came onto his porch, knocked loudly on his door, and identified themselves as utility employees.  They asked to see the homeowner’s utility bill. He refused. The police were called. We posted Mr. Burns letter to the editor.

Here is a link to that post,  including a comment today from Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn about what to do when confronted with a similar situation.

BF post about a scam

Today we received another comment—this time from Diane, an Ocean Grover. She complained that the race of the suspected scammer was mentioned in Mr. Burns’ letter and then posted on Blogfinger.    She believes that mentioning his race is not necessary and just promotes suspicion of African-Americans who come to Ocean Grove.   Here is Diane’s  comment:

“Thank you all for the warning. I do not mean to cause offense, but a scam is important to note as a warning to others. It is not important to note the race of the people coming to one’s door, especially when a few sentences later this is linked with recent burglaries….being in the wrong place and up to something.

I sincerely appreciate Mr. Burns bringing this to light and understand his fear, but I am afraid that if some of my young, male, African American students were to walk in Ocean Grove they might likewise be misconstrued as being in the wrong place and up to no good — which would be a true shame.

Thank you, thank you for the caution and the warning; yes, the burglaries do lay the foundation for mistrust of people in the neighborhood, and scams are always disconcerting.”

What do you think of Diane’s criticism? We would especially like to hear from some commenters who are in law enforcement.

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

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