ACLU Applauds Congressional Black Caucus For Focus on Racial Profiling; Urges Congress to Act Quickly to End National Disgrace

May 22, 2001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — Testifying in a special hearing called by the Congressional Black Caucus on the national disgrace of racial profiling, the American Civil Liberties Union today urged Congress to quickly adopt new legislation that would comprehensively prohibit the practice.

“We firmly support the Congressional Black Caucus and its commitment to ensuring that American law enforcement officers no longer be allowed to level suspicion based upon the color of one’s skin,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU’s Washington National Office. “The federal government must take the lead in mandating a prohibition on such policing.”

The Black Caucus called today’s session to hear testimony from several victims of racial profiling, academic researchers, other non-profit organizations, law enforcement officials, Members of Congress who have introduced or plan to introduce legislation regarding racial profiling, and Administration officials.

“We urge the Republican-controlled House and Senate to listen to the new Republican Administration and finally pass legislation that addresses this unconscionable practice,” Murphy said.

Despite evidence that hundreds of thousands of racial minorities have faced the humiliation of being stopped or accosted by police because of their skin color, Congress has stubbornly refused to act. Some Members of Congress, however, are refusing to give up and are preparing to introduce new legislation the ACLU is strongly supporting. The new bill, the “End Racial Profiling Act of 2001,” would:

  • Concretely define racial profiling and declare it illegal.

  • Give victims of racial profiling the ability to sue police departments that have violated their rights.

  • Allow the Attorney General to mandate data collection by federal and state law enforcement agencies on any police “stops,” including those done by police departments, immigration and customs agents.

  • Provide grants to police departments to establish data collection and other management programs.

  • Require the Attorney General to report on the results of the data collection studies.

    “The federal government must immediately recognize the obvious: that being a racial minority is not a crime nor is it an appropriate criterion for suspicion of criminal activity,” said Murphy. “Washington must take the steps necessary to end the national disgrace of racial profiling.”

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