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Amadou Diallo a young man from the African country of Guinea immigrated to the United States believing that this was the land of opportunity Like many immigrants before him he settled in the Bronx and earned his living as a peddler He was an honest citizen trying to get buy in the US unfortunately his life was ended before he could attain his dreams On the night of February 4 1999 four undercover police accosted Diallo in the doorway of his building with drawn guns They flashed their badges shouted that they were cops and ordered Diallo to put his hands up For reasons we do not know Diallo reached into his pocket to pull out his wallet The cops thinking he was drawing a gun began firing In the space of seconds they fired 41 shots at the innocent and unarmed man Nineteen of them struck Diallo and almost instantly killed him Thats the story as we now know it We also know that the police thought Diallo resembled a rapist that they were looking for in the neighborhood -- ie the rapist like Diallo was black Oddly the police were able to see well enough to believe Diallo resembled the rapist but were not able to see well enough to distinguish Diallos wallet from a gun We are left with two questions Why did the police accost Diallo and why didnt Diallo obey the police and raise his hands The answer to the first question is racial profiling which begins with racial stereotyping Im reminded of comedian Buddy Hacketts old Chinese waiter routine in which a waiter in a Chinese Restaurant brings won ton and egg drop soup to the wrong customers In frustration he exclaims funny thing about you white people you all look alike The difficulty of identifying individuals across our countrys racial divide is not limited to cops We tend to see skin color first then and only
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