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Portland Lawyers Develop App To Counter Racial Profiling

Traffic stops can be stress-inducing, but a new app called Driving While Black, specifically made for African Americans and other minorities, aims to make citizen resources more readily available to those who feel they are targeted by police.

The Skanner reports that Portland lawyers Melvin Oden-Orr and Mariann Hyland developed the app to better educate African Americans about their rights when pulled over by police. Features include information about civil rights, materials parents can use when speaking with their children about driving, and possible traffic stop scenarios.

“The cardinal rule in a traffic stop: Just remain calm,” Oden-Orr said in an interview with the website.

The app is a spin off from conversations already taking place in the Portland community.

Shortly after young African American Kendra James was shot by police when she attempted to drive away from a traffic stop in 2003, Oden-Orr invited the public to a forum that covered what should happen at a traffic stop.

Hyland attended the event and was inspired to further educate.

Hyland said after researching traffic stop data from a 2013 U.S. Department of Justice Report, she found that African American drivers “are 31 percent more likely to be stopped than white drivers, and are more than twice as likely to be searched.”

The app covers federal laws, so Oden-Orr and Hyland say it has potential to reach a national audience.

Driving While Black is expected to launch next month for iOS and Android.

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