Seeking to curb the social injustice phenomenon known as “driving while Black,” Philadelphia has passed legislation the mayor is expected to sign that will bar police from making minor traffic stops.
Once Democrat Mayor Jim Kenney signs the law it would take effect in 120 days, restricting police from stops for busted tail lights and expired inspections, the first major U.S. city to do so, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Activists have considered those traffic infractions as disproportionately exposing Blacks to traffic stops, leading to the Philadelphia City Council to pass the Driving Equality Bill 14-2 to curb “unequal police practices” against minorities.
Another bill passed to create a database of traffic stops.
“These bills end the traffic stops that promote discrimination while keeping the traffic stops that promote public safety,” the city council said in a statement. “This approach seeks to redirect police time and resources toward keeping Philadelphians safe while removing negative interactions that widen the divide and perpetuate mistrust.”
Defender Association of Philadelphia noted 97% of traffic stops in Philadelphia are for low-level infractions.
Blacks individuals, who represent 43% of the population, have accounted for 72% of stops for vehicle code violations, according to data cited by the bill’s author Councilman Isaiah Thomas.
“To many people who look like me, a traffic stop is a rite of passage — we pick out cars, we determine routes, we plan our social interactions around the fact that it is likely that we will be pulled over by police,” Thomas said.
“Philadelphia will lead the nation by removing police from certain traffic stops,” he added via Twitter.