Pushing Traffic Stops for Driving While Black Back: Drive Race and Gender and Traffic Stops in 'Midwest City,' 1970-1971

Brian R. Kowalski, The Ohio State University
Richard J. Lundman, The Ohio State University

Some contemporary scholars argue that traffic stops by police for Driving While Black should be traced to the drug Enforcement Administration's Operation Pipline that began in 1984. This paper uses the Sykes and Clark "Midwest City" data (Sykes and Brent, 1983; Sykes and Clark, 1975) from the early 1970s to demonstrate that police were making trafifc stops for Driving While Black well before the creation of Operation Pipeline. Scholars therefore need to push their understandings of Driving While Black back in time because Operation Pipeline was simply a particularly visible reaffirmation and continuation of a long-standing police practice of targeting African Americans for formal action.

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Updated 05/20/2006