German Court Gives Police Permission to Perform ID Checks Based on Skin Color

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

While we are arguing the aspects of the Trayvon Martin case here in the United States, Germany has had its own racial profiling case stirring up debate.  This week a German court ruled that police have the right to use skin color as a reason to perform ID checks on people to verify citizenship.  The case was brought to court after a 25-year-old black German man riding a train refused to show identification, when he was asked by police, in protest of the repeated questioning he had received in the past.  Unless the police could give him a good reason as to why he should show an ID, he wasn’t going to allow himself to face the humiliation in his own country.  He told the court that “Over the last three years I have been asked for my identification about 15 times on that train… It was making me sick.”

The recent decision is surely not the end of the discussion as there is still outrage over the recent ruling.  Many Germans do not feel that there is justification for police to strictly use a person’s appearance to decide whether or not their identification needs to be verified.

This subject of racial profiling isn’t unique to Germany as it is a continuing debate in many countries, including the United States.  Cops responsible for verifying citizenship are unable to stop and check every person they come by, so there needs to be some set of criteria in place for them to use.  However, using skin color as the gauge seems to do more harm than good.  Is there not a less discriminatory way to perform these checks?  Let us know how you feel about this case and whether you believe racial profiling is justified in looking for people breaking immigration laws.


photo © Björn Kietzmann

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Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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