• Liberals in DC’s Richest Neighborhood Have A New App To Profile Blacks

    A well-intentioned idea from one of D.C.’s best police officers turned into just another way for rich, white people to profile blacks in their neighborhood.

    In 2013, Metropolitan Police Department officer Antonial Atkins, MPD’s officer of the year that year, began working with businesses in Georgetown, which is home to Georgetown University and seen as an upscale shopping destination, to improve communication between business owners and police.

    As originally reported by Peter Murray in The Georgetowner, the police and shop employees linked together using the GroupMe app to disseminate information in real time. If employees saw something suspicious or needed police assistance, they could directly message police officers in the area via the app.

    That direct line of communication soon turned in to little more than a platform for gossip and speculation about customer’s motives.

    According to The Georgetowner analysis, 330 people were mentioned as potential shoplifters in group messages between Georgetown stores and police officers between March 1, 2015 and July 5, 2015. Of those mentions, 236, or nearly three quarters, were identified as black people.

    Just 16 white people, or less than half of one percent of the mentions, were flagged as suspicious.

    Another investigation of the messages between the group conducted by The Washington Post found similar results. Since Jan., 2015, nearly 70 percent of the people mentioned in messages were black. Oftentimes, store employees accuse black shoppers of suspicious behavior but provide little to no evidence to back up those claims. One worker at Hu’s Wear, a women’s designer clothing store, described a black man she thought was suspicious.

    “About 6 foot. Tats on hands and neck. Very suspicious, looking everywhere but what was he asking about,” she wrote, adding a picture she took of the man.

    Later on that day, though, an employee at a suit store down the street recognized the man and vindicated him among the message recipients.

    “He was just in Suitsupply. Made a purchase of several suits and some gloves,” the employee wrote.

    Even Atkins, who was instrumental in implementing the GroupMe program, became a victim of racial profiling in the group message.

    Atkins told The Georgetowner it actually happened to him. One day when he wasn’t in uniform, he decided to go shopping in Georgetown, and found himself the subject of discussion in the group.

    “Someone in a store accused me of being someone who had stolen from the store before,” Atkins said.

    Still, though, Atkins doesn’t see the program as a failure. He said the apparent racial profiling concerns him, but he trusts the app users to do the right thing.

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