Probable cause: a broken taillight.

A common thread running through many questionable police stops — including some of that have cost black motorists their lives — is a broken or non-working taillight being used as probable cause for the stop.

On Saturday, a group is hoping to help low-income residents of Central Arkansas remove that oft-cited cause by hosting an event where they will replace brake light bulbs and tape up cracked taillights for free.

The central Arkansas chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America will host the event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 9, at 6111 W. 83rd St., in the parking lot of Little Rock’s Second Baptist Church. All materials for repairs and labor will be provided free. The event is part of a national taillight repair effort sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America, with the goal of helping curtail police stops and searches in minority and low-income communities. 

The group will have Spanish interpreters on hand Saturday, and will also be distributing free informational materials, provided by ACLU-Arkansas, on how motorists can protect their Constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures if they are pulled over while driving.

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Defective or cracked brake lights are a leading cause given by police for traffic stops, including some which have led to the police shooting deaths of black motorists. Philando Castile, a black motorist shot while reaching for his I.D. during a police stop in Minnesota in July 2016, was initially pulled over because he had a non-working taillight. A jury later acquitted the officer who shot Castile.

For more information about the Democratic Socialists of Arkansas, visit their Facebook page. They plan other clinics to help low income people in central Arkansas in coming months.

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UPDATE (1:17 p.m. on Dec. 9)

Jacob here. Brian and I went to the event. Check out some photos.

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The event had coffee, pumpkin bread and people trickling in throughout the day for brake light repairs. Volunteers told us they’re trying to do similar events about four times a year.