ADC Welcomes Introduction of Legislation to End Racial Profiling
Washington, DC | December 13, 2007 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) welcomes today’s introduction of the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI). ADC, the nation’s leading non-sectarian, non-partisan, grassroots Arab-American civil rights organization, urges Congress to pass ERPA.
ADC has detailed the various kinds of racial profiling based on national origin and religion in its “Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination Against Arab Americans: The Post-September 11 Backlash” volume. Specific incidents of racial profiling and the negative effects profiling has on law enforcement’s relationship with the Arab-American community were documented. In early 2008, ADC will release the 2003-2007 volume of its “Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination Against Arab Americans.”
ADC endeavors to address the problem of racial profiling through a cultural, ethnic, and religious competency training curriculum. ADC’s Law Enforcement Outreach Program (LEOP) has trained over 10,000 law enforcement officers, including the FBI and other government agencies, in the past six years.
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.
ADC National Executive Director Kareem Shora said, “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.”
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.
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 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 bill of the same name introduced in the 108th Congress, 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. ADC urges Members of Congress support this critical civil rights legislation.