For Immediate Release
ACLU Video Starring Elon James White Reminds People of Their Constitutional Rights When Stopped by Police
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day an Important Reminder of Ongoing Problem of Racial Profiling
NEW YORK - The
American Civil Liberties Union today released a video of nationally
acclaimed comedian Elon James White using humor to convey how best to
respond when stopped by police, and to drive home the rights that all
Americans have during any encounter with law enforcement officers.
video, based on the ACLU's know-your-rights card "What to Do if You're
Stopped by Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI" is being released on
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which presents a good opportunity to
reflect on the myriad ways people of color across the nation continue to
experience racial discrimination.
brilliantly uses humor to make this vital information accessible in a
way few other people could," said Dennis Parker, Director of the ACLU
Racial Justice Program. "But the use of comedy should not shroud the
reality that racial profiling remains a serious nationwide problem. We
rely on the police to keep us safe and treat us all fairly. But the
practice of relying on an individual's apparent race, ethnicity,
national origin or religion rather than on evidence of criminal activity
when deciding whom to stop, search or arrest is at odds with our shared
American values of fairness and justice, and betrays the fundamental
promises of equal justice under the law and freedom from unreasonable
searches and seizures."
normally associated with African Americans and Latinos, racial
profiling also affects Native Americans and, increasingly in the years
since 9/11, Arabs, Muslims and South Asians. Recent data, including
reports by a number of ACLU state affiliates, documents the persistence
of racial profiling in communities throughout the country, despite the
fact that analyses of traffic stops and searches show that people of
color are no more likely, and in fact are often less likely, to have
drugs or weapons than whites. Several government agencies have
documented the ineffectiveness of relying on race as a proxy for
profiling is not only a direct affront to American values. It is an
ineffective law enforcement tool that wastes police officers' time and
taxpayer dollars and is detrimental to public safety," said Andre
Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "It
diverts police attention away from more effective law enforcement
techniques and cultivates resentment in targeted communities and makes
people in those communities less likely to cooperate in investigations."
the video, White articulates a number of best practices to be used when
involved in an encounter with law enforcement officials, aimed at
ensuring that people's constitutional rights are upheld. "There are some
things that you want to say out loud, like clearly, like really let the
officer know exactly what you mean...‘I am remaining silent!' Just say it
immediately and then just shut up," White says in the video.
also offers advice to people who are or are perceived to be
non-citizens. "Please note, these rules apply even if you don't have
your papers, okay? If you don't have your papers you still have these
weird things called your constitutional rights, you know, even though
some people try to pretend like you don't," White says in the video.
Brooklyn, NY-based comedian, White is writer and host of the
award-winning web series This Week in Blackness, a satirical look at
race, politics and pop culture in a so-called "post-racial" America.
White has been a featured commentator on "Countdown with Keith
Olbermann, VH1's "Black to the Future," and "The Great Debate. His
commentary on race and politics has been featured on CNN.com, Daily Kos,
The Huffington Post, Giant Magazine, Alternet and The Root.
The video is available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants-
ACLU's know-your-rights card is available online at: www.aclu.org/knowyourrights
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.