WASHINGTON - December 19 - Noting that the corrosive practice of racial profiling
has continued despite President Bush’s promise in 2001 to "end it in America,"
the American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the reintroduction of the "End
Racial Profiling Act" (ERPA) in the Senate late Friday and urged congressional
leaders to co-sponsor this important bill and place its enactment at the top of
their 2006 legislative agenda.
"Despite widespread condemnation of racial profiling by leaders from across
the political spectrum, including the President, previous attempts to pass a
comprehensive federal ban have not moved forward," said Caroline Fredrickson,
Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "It’s time for our leaders
to back up their professed indignation with concrete steps to end this offensive
and ineffective law enforcement practice. Singling out people for police
scrutiny based on their race, ethnicity, national origin or religion does
nothing to make us safer, but does a great deal to deepen racial rifts in
An April 2005 Department of Justice survey found that blacks and Hispanics
are roughly three times as likely as whites to be searched, arrested, or
threatened or subdued with force when stopped by police. A September 2005 report
by Amnesty International indicates that one in nine Americans has been
victimized by racial profiling- a total of 32 million people nationwide.
Nonetheless, 27 states have enacted no law to ban or curb racial profiling.
ERPA was introduced in the House and Senate in 2001 and 2004 and both times
languished in committee without ever receiving an up-or-down vote. If enacted,
ERPA would prohibit any local, state, or federal law enforcement agency or
officer from engaging in racial profiling. It would make efforts to eliminate
the practice a condition of law enforcement agencies receiving federal money.
ERPA would institute a meaningful enforcement mechanism to ensure that
anti-profiling policies are being followed. Law enforcement agencies would be
required to collect demographic data on routine investigatory activities,
develop procedures to respond to racial profiling complaints and craft policies
to discipline officers who engage in the practice. ERPA also would provide
victims of racial profiling with the legal tools to hold law enforcement
"Racial profiling has undermined the respect and trust between law
enforcement and communities of color, which is essential to successful police
work," said ACLU Legislative Counsel Jesselyn McCurdy. "It sends the message
that some citizens do not deserve equal protection under the law. Without a
comprehensive federal law that includes a strong enforcement and oversight
mechanism, our national dialogue on racial profiling will remain just that -- a
lot of talk."
To learn more about racial profiling, read the ACLU report "Sanctioned Bias" at: