Action Alert: In the Spirit of Dr. King, Ask Congress to End Racial Profiling
This MLK Weekend, Ask Congress to Make a Difference In the Spirit of Dr. King, Ask Congress to End Racial Profiling Take Action!
Washington, DC | January 18, 2008 | www.adc.org | This weekend as individuals, families and communities gather to remember and celebrate the civil rights legacy and life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us take a moment and ask Congress to support legislation to end racial profiling. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation’s leading, non-sectarian non-partisan, grassroots Arab-American civil rights organization, urges Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) this year and help continue Dr. King’s legacy. Passage of ERPA is one of ADC’s top legislative priorities for the second half of the 110th Congress. We urge our members and supporters to contact their members of Congress asking them to cosponsor, support and pass ERPA.
Click on the “Take Action Button” or fill out the letter below to your members of Congress or contact them directly using the following website: http://capwiz.com/adc/dbq/officials/
At the end of last year, before Congress adjourned for its winter break, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the End Racial Profiling Act in both the House of Representatives and US Senate. To read text of both bills please click on their bill numbers S 2481 and HR 4611.
Racial profiling occurs when law enforcement relies on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion in selecting which individuals to subject to routine or spontaneous investigatory activities, except when relying on a specific suspect description. This practice violates our nation’s basic constitutional commitment to equality before the law. Racial profiling is also contrary to effective law enforcement — whether used as a tool in the war against drugs or the war against terrorism, profiling fuels the perception in minority communities that the criminal justice system is unfair and undermines the trust between the police and the communities they serve.
Additionally, according to counter-terrorism experts, racial and ethnic profiling does not make us safer. In October 2001, senior U.S. intelligence officials circulated to American law enforcement agents worldwide a memorandum entitled “Assessing Behaviors,” which emphasized that focusing on the racial characteristics of individuals wasted resources and might divert attention away from suspicious behavior by someone who did not fit a racial profile. Importantly, there has not been a single documented incident where racial profiling by law enforcement resulted in the capture or detention of any suspect related to terrorism.
The overwhelming majority of law enforcement agents discharge their duties with honorable intentions. Nevertheless, empirical evidence from around the nation reveals that profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies is widespread, and that, despite the efforts of some states and local law enforcement agencies to address this problem, federal legislation is necessary.
The End Racial Profiling Act builds on the guidance issued by the Department of Justice in June 2003, which bans federal law enforcement officials from engaging in racial profiling. ERPA would apply this prohibition to state and local law enforcement, close the loopholes to its application, include a mechanism for enforcement of the new policy, require data collection to monitor the government’s progress toward eliminating profiling, and provide best practice incentive grants to state and local law enforcement agencies that will enable agencies to use federal funds to bring their departments into compliance with the requirements of the bill. The DOJ guidance was a good first step, but ERPA is needed to “end racial profiling in America,” as President Bush pledged to do.
This bill, which is substantially similar to the bi-partisan bills introduced in prior congresses, represents a balanced and comprehensive solution to a problem that strikes at the heart of our basic constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under the law for all Americans. Contact Congress today asking them to pass the End Racial Profiling Act!