Noemi Martintez was on her way to a job interview, on foot, when she was ticketed for “Walking While Black” a new pedestrian crime that appears to be making it’s way in Jacksonville, Florida, mainly do to the offices of one officer C.J. Brown, who writes tickets like they were going out of style. In this instance, Ms. Martinez was walking on the shoulder of the road because the broken sidewalk was flooded with water from the sprinklers of a local nursery. ProPublica:
I’ve never been stopped for anything and you’re going to stop me for walking, when I was doing everything right,” Martinez recalled saying to Brown. “He stopped me as if I was a criminal.”
ProPublica and the Times-Union examined more than 2,200 pedestrian tickets issued to people in Jacksonville from 2012 to 2017, and found that 55 percent of them were issued to blacks despite the fact that the city’s population is just 29 percent African American. The sheriff’s office says the tickets are issued in an effort to limit pedestrian fatalities and combat crime.
Brown has fully embraced the ticket enforcement effort. Records show Brown issued 198 pedestrian tickets over five years, four times the total of the next most prolific officer. Slightly more than 60 percent of his tickets went to blacks, meaning one of every 10 blacks to receive a pedestrian ticket in Jacksonville from 2012 to 2017 was cited by Brown.
Brown’s boss says that Brown is “good at his job.” Is his job enforcing traffic infractions or racial profiling?
The 18 other motor officers accounted for a combined 144 pedestrian tickets, well short of Brown’s total. The officers who wrote the second-most and third-most tickets gave out 50 and 39, respectively. They, too, issued them disproportionately to blacks (60 percent and 74 percent, respectively.)