© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Talking Racial Profiling and Red Hoodies in New Haven


In the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, one New Haven cop is reaching out to African American teenagers -- asking them to think about ways to avoid being singled out. The Connecticut Mirror's UmaRamiah has more.

There are about twenty young people in the basement of Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Haven on a weeknight. They're talking about cops, race, and hooded sweatshirts.

"What can get you killed faster: Your clothes, the way you dress? Or your skin color?"

That's Shafiq Abdussabur, a New Haven community organizer turned police officer. He tells the students cops are often on the lookout for young, black men in dark hoodies and dark jeans. And that, he says, isn't all racial profiling. The majority of people killed in America by gun violence are black males.

"Guess who's killing them? Black males. Guess what they're dressed in? Black clothing. That's a fact. That's just a fact," Abdussabur says.

Abdussabur is actively involved in New Haven's neighborhoods outside of his day job. He's most interested in reaching out to young, minority males. His book, called A Black Man's Guide to Law Enforcement in America, offers information to young people on how to handle encounters with the police. 

At Emmanuel Baptist, he asks students to think about the way they dress, and how others might perceive them.

"As a black male in America, and as a black female -- you will not get a second chance at a first impression."

The teenagers gathered say the message makes sense -- they know people make assumptions about them based on their appearances. They'd like to see this kind of program offered in high schools around the city.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content