For a group of young female campers in New Jersey, a field trip to an aquarium in Point Pleasant Beach turned into a lesson on the reality of racial profiling in the state. The minors allege they were illegally signaled out and ejected from the aquarium’s gift shop because of their race.
Last year, a group of over 60 young African American females from a summer camp in Paterson, New Jersey visited the Point Pleasant Beach aquarium during a camp field trip. According to the allegations, a female employee in the aquarium’s gift shop accused some of the young campers of damaging the merchandise and informed them they were not welcome without a chaperone. At the time, campers ranging in age from 6 to 14 were browsing unaccompanied in the store.
Even when the girls returned with their camp counselor, they were still told to leave the store immediately. The camp director alleges other unaccompanied children in the bookstore, who were white, were not asked to leave and that her campers were the victims of illegal discrimination in the form of racial profiling.
Disallowing a group of shoppers from browsing in a gift shop on the basis of their race is an example of illegal racial profiling. Any discriminatory practice that targets a person for different treatment on the basis of the person’s race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin can fall within the definition of racial profiling. Several state and federal laws including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit all forms of racial discrimination. Under these laws, there cannot be unequal treatment due an individual’s color or race with respect to employment actions, housing opportunities, ability to obtain credit, use of public accommodations, and access to voting.
Racial profiling is often associated with police enforcement activities including the stopping of certain vehicles due to the race of the driver. The rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement highlighted other types of racial profiling known to occur in police departments across the nation. In the continued aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, individuals of Middle eastern descent or of the Muslim faith have reported incidents of being targeted for alleged criminal activity.
Racial discrimination can take many forms. As the aquarium racial profiling incident shows, even young children can become victims of illegal racial profiling. Individuals who have experienced racial profiling may be entitled to compensation for the violation of their civil rights. In addition to monetary compensation in the form of civil penalties or punitive damages, courts can issue injunctions to stop ongoing racial profiling.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of racial discrimination, including racial profiling, the experienced Pennsylvania civil rights lawyers at Williams Cedar are here to help. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Pennsylvania civil rights lawyer today, call us at 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777 or submit an online inquiry form.