For Immediate Release
House To Hear Testimony On Racial Profiling Today
WASHINGTON - The
House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and
Civil Liberties will hear testimony today from civil rights groups,
legal scholars and law enforcement officials at a hearing on racial
profiling that will examine law enforcement’s use of race, ethnicity,
national origin and religion to determine guilt. The hearing, titled
“Racial Profiling and the Use of Suspect Classifications in Law
Enforcement Policy,” will also set the stage for the upcoming
reintroduction of the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) by both the House
and the Senate.
profiling is not only an unfair and un-American policing tactic, it
also erodes community trust and is an ineffective waste of law
enforcement resources," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the American
Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. “Using race,
ethnicity, national origin or religion to single out people for police
scrutiny does nothing to make us safer, but does a great deal to deepen
racial divides in America. Racial profiling is wrong, unconstitutional
and sends the unacceptable message that some citizens do not deserve
equal protection under the law.”
of the hearing’s witnesses, Salt Lake City Chief of Police Chris
Burbank, is expected to testify on the law recently passed in the
neighboring state of Arizona requiring police to demand "papers" from
people they stop who they suspect are not authorized to be in the U.S.
Law enforcement groups, including Arizona’s state police chief's
association, oppose the discriminatory law because it undermines public
safety by diverting scarce security resources toward false threats and
eroding trust between law enforcement and Latinos.
month, the ACLU and other leading civil rights groups filed a lawsuit
challenging the Arizona law in a federal court in Phoenix. The
extreme law, the groups charge, invites racial profiling because law
enforcement will inevitably rely on their own bias to determine who
they suspect is in the U.S. unlawfully and force anyone who looks or
sounds “foreign" to confirm their identity and citizenship.
was introduced in the House and Senate in 2001, 2004 and 2005, failing
each year to receive a vote. If enacted, ERPA would prohibit any local,
state or federal law enforcement agency or officer from engaging in
racial profiling. It would make
engaging in efforts to eliminate racial profiling a condition for law
enforcement agencies to receive federal money. ERPA would institute a
meaningful enforcement mechanism to ensure that anti-profiling policies
are being followed.
condemnation of racial profiling by leaders from across the political
spectrum, including the president and attorney general, attempts to
pass a comprehensive federal ban have not moved forward,” said Jennifer
Bellamy, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Racial
profiling has undermined the respect and trust between law enforcement
and communities of color, which is essential to successful police work.
Race, ethnicity and religion are not and should not be grounds for
criminal suspicion. Congress should move quickly to reintroduce and
pass the End Racial Profiling Act.”
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