Black communities concerned about a case, in which the Supreme Court will decide, if illegally obtained evidence can be used in a trial.
The land’s highest court is faced with a Fourth Amendment case amid tensions between the White House and the Republican controlled Congress over the approval of a nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat.
The Supreme Court has agreed to rule in the Utah v. Strieff case if police can use evidence they find during an unconstitutionally sanctioned stop.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
However, the courts have been frustrated in their efforts to go around the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine, which stipulates that illegally obtained evidence must not be presented at a trial.
The case revolves around an incident in 2006 when narcotics Detective, Doug Fackrell, stopped Edward Strieff, 46, on an anonymous tip alleging drugs being sold out of his South Salt Lake home.
Strieff was arrested during that stop on an outstanding warrant and found with methamphetamine and a drug pipe.
Strieff contested the district court’s decision to allow into evidence the items found on him, on the grounds that the officer lacked justifiable suspicion to carry out the arrest. The Utah Court of Appeals upheld that decision, but was later reversed by the Utah Supreme Court.
The implications for the African-American community, in an event where the Supreme Court rules in favor of the police, will be very grave.
This would mean the police can now hang around corners in Black neighborhoods to stop, search and punish innocent people, whose only crimes are “just being Black”, “driving while Black” or “walking while Black”.
The pro-law enforcement lobby maintains that the police are trying to do their job in good faith in a fuzzy legal landscape.
However, civil liberties advocates have cautioned that a ruling in favor of the police would be a premise to stop more people in so-called high-crime areas with baseless legal justifications.
“Police have far more ability to intervene in our lives — even when we’re not engaged in actual criminal conduct — than I think most people suspect,” said David Rocah, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Maryland.
We keep our faith in the Supreme Court to uphold the laws of our land and not to succumb to a vicious police regime, whose official policy condones the daily harassment, and brutalization of Black people to fill the municipal coffers.
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