Head of NY Taxi Fed: It’s Okay to Racially Profile Passengers for Safety

In the wake of a livery cab driver shooting this weekend in New York City, the head of the state’s Taxi federation is encouraging drivers to profile passengers, especially blacks and Hispanics.

“Profile your passengers, it’s very important,” Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, said yesterday. “I don’t care about racial profiling. You know sometimes it’s good that we are racially profiled because the God’s-honest truth is that 99 percent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics. So if you see suspicious activity, you know what, don’t pick the person up.”

Mateo, who is Hispanic, made the comments at a news conference updating the condition of Trevor Bell, the livery cab driver who was shot six times by a passenger on Friday night. Bell remains in critical but stable condition as a result of the attack.

Police are looking for the assailant and have released video of him moments before he pulled the trigger. The gun can be seen in his right hand:

Mateo’s comments are especially relevant as the TSA faces controversy over its new screening procedures. Some have said that profiling could be an effective way to minimize invasive searches and increase security. Such a process has been used successfully by Israeli airline El Al.

UPDATE:

Police have just identified the suspect as 22-year-old Shawn Price. He is between 5’10” to 6’0″ tall and about 180 lbs.

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