ACLU Applauds Introduction of 'End Racial Profiling Act' As ACLU Releases Report on Racial Profiling

February 26, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON -- On February 27, 2001, President Bush told a joint session of Congress that racial profiling "is wrong and we will end it in America." Three years later, members of Congress today introduced bipartisan legislation called the "End Racial Profiling Act" to finally achieve the goal ending racial bias in law enforcement.

"The End Racial Profiling Act is a key step in the fight to ensure that no one in America is subject to law enforcement encounters based on crude bias," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Not only is racial profiling a fundamentally un-American policing tactic, it erodes the community trust, and it is an ineffective law enforcement method. If stereotyping is allowed to be a substitute for legitimate criminal investigations, we will catch fewer criminals because police officers are focusing on the wrong suspect."

The bill's introduction comes as the ACLU released a report on how racial profiling has become official government policy. "Sanctioned Bias: Racial Profiling Since 9/11" documents the effects of racial and religious profiling on individuals and national security policies. Racial profiling is in every instance inconsistent with this country's core constitutional principles of equality and fairness. According to the report, racial profiling has undermined the respect and trust between law enforcement and communities of color which's essential for successful police work, and it sends the message that some citizens do not deserve equal protection under the law.

The legislation was introduced today in the Senate by sponsors Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ). It is expected to be introduced in the House by Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) and John Conyers (D-MI). At introduction, the bill had over 100 cosponsors.

The legislation would ban racial profiling at all levels of law enforcement, and make efforts to eliminate the practice a condition of law enforcement agencies receiving federal money. It would provide grants to police departments for data collection systems and training to prevent racial profiling. It would also provide victims of racial profiling with the legal tools to hold law enforcement agencies accountable, and the Attorney General would be required to regularly report to Congress on the results of data collection.

"Racial profiling has plagued this country for years and since September 11th it has grown uncontrollably," said LaShawn Y. Warren, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "The premise of this modest bill is straightforward: Race, ethnicity and religion are not grounds for criminal suspicion."

The Department of Justice issued guidance in 2003 banning federal law enforcement agencies from engaging in racial profiling, but both the ACLU and the legislation's sponsors said it was not enough. "We must do more than make empty promises to eliminate biasing our police departments," Warren said. "The ban must have an enforcement mechanism if it is to succeed at putting an end to racial profiling in this country."

The ACLU's letter to the Senate urging support for ERPA can be found at:
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The ACLU's letter to the House urging support for ERPA can be found at:
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The ACLU's Racial Profiling Flyer can be found at: /node/22568

A copy of the "Sanctioned Bias" report is available at:
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