Statewide Coalition Announces Campaign to End Racial Profiling in Georgia

Affiliate: ACLU of Georgia
July 7, 2000 12:00 am

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ATLANTA, GA — At a news conference this morning, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and four other widely recognized civil rights groups announced a new anti-racial profiling initiative, which will include litigation, legislation, public education and activism.

Racial profiling is the practice by law enforcement agencies of stopping and searching vehicles driven by people of a particular race. The stops are often justified under the pretense of a minor violation.

“Racial profiling must end now,” said Gerald Weber, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “This coalition will not rest until every root and branch of prejudice is unearthed.”

Coalition members are the ACLU, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, the Georgia NAACP, and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

William Baker, a prominent businessman and candidate for the Board of Commissioners for Truetlen County, believes that he was the victim of racial profiling when he was followed for 18 miles, stopped for “following too close,” and had his entire car searched in Johnson County, Georgia.

Upon hearing Mr. Baker’s story, coalition members decided to launch a full scale battle against racial profiling in Georgia, beginning with the legal defense of Mr. Baker on July 12th. Mr. Baker will be represented by Jack Martin, a cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Georgia.

“I, along with other civil rights leaders, am highly offended that this type of racial profiling continues to exist in Georgia and throughout our country,” said State Representative Tyrone Brooks, President of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.

According to a landmark ACLU report issued last year, thousands of innocent motorists on highways across the country are victims of racial profiling; these discriminatory police stops have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. This practice has been further fueled by the so-called war on drugs, which has given police a license to target people who they think fit a “drug courier” or “gang member” profile.

Others at the news conference included Joe Beasley, Regional Director, Southern Region, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; the Reverend Fred Taylor, Director of Direct Actions and Crisis Intervention Committee with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

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