Friday, May 22, 2009

Speaking of checkpoints...

This blog has spent a lot of time talking about traffic checkpoints, which are often used for purposes other than those which were initially stated. Student in Pomona notes that there will be a discussion on this topic next Tuesday.

Pomona Checkpoints: Saving Lives or Ruining Lives

Guests will be:
Mayor Elliot Rothman
Pomona Habla Coalition
Dr. Jose Calderon of Pitzer College
Chris Rodriguez of Cal Pulli Sound System/Community activist
Shawn Fago, President of the Young Republication Party of Orange County

My guess is that the "ruining lives" argument will not be mounted by the Young Republican. I found this June 2008 article that mentioned the Pomona Habla Coalition:

"This has never happened before," said Gilberto, a middle-aged gardener who joined over 600 hundreds residents of the inland City of Pomona to protest what he said were never-ending racist traffic checkpoints, or "retenes."...

Many city residents at the protest [said] the so-called sobriety checkpoints are death traps for hard-working immigrants. After paying hundreds of dollars in fines and impound fees, there is often little left for gas, food or rent.

The checkpoints are thoroughly racist and anti-immigrant. They target undocumented workers who are forced to drive without a license because of their legal status in the country.

Arturo Jimenez, coordinator of the Pomona Habla Coalition, told Liberation that aside from causing extreme economic hardships, the checkpoints violated the guidelines set by the California Office of Traffic Safety Grant (OTS), which funds the Pomona Police Department’s checkpoints.

"We are against the racial profiling and the department’s abuse of the traffic stops," Jimenez said. "If the OTS says they’re supposed to catch drunk drivers, then why have they netted—at the most—only a handful of DUIs."

City statistics prove that Jimenez is right. On April 12, Pomona police screened 4,027 vehicles, impounded 152, issued 170 citations but made only 3 DUI arrests.

Go to Student in Pomona's blog for more details on the panel discussion.

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