NAACP Statement on the Introduction Of The End Racial Profiling Act In the US House

(WASHINGTON DC)— The NAACP released the following remarks from NAACP Washington Bureau Director & Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy Hilary Shelton regarding the introduction of the End Racial Profiling Act

From Hilary Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau Director & Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy:

“On behalf of the NAACP, our nation’s oldest, largest and most widely-recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization, I would like to express our strong support for the End Racial Profiling Act, which will be introduced today by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI), following the Senate version which was introduced by Senator Cardin (MD) on May 23, 2013, which currently has 15 co-sponsors.

I would also like to sincerely thank our champions, Senator Cardin and Congressman Conyers, for their courage, the leadership, the vision, and the inspiration demonstrated here today and by introducing this crucial legislation.  This important legislation takes concrete steps to put an end to the insidious practice of racial profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels.

As painfully demonstrated over the past months, racial profiling is a serious problem in the United States, and can lead to deadly consequences.  As you can imagine, it is difficult for our faith in the American judicial system not to be challenged when we cannot walk down the street, drive down an interstate, go through an airport, or even enter into our own homes without being stopped merely because of the color of our skin.  Training law enforcement officers how to more efficiently carry out the essential policing without avoid using this counter-productive procedure will not only help our nation’s criminal justice system at all levels, but it will trickle down to other groups as well, such as neighborhood watch organizations and citizens’ community groups, which often model themselves after their local police and which have taken on additional responsibilities in light of the budget cuts being faced by almost every locality and jurisdiction.

The majority of law enforcement officers are hard working men and women, whose concern for the safety of those they are charged with protecting is often paramount, even when their own safety is on the line.  However, if and when even one of their colleagues engages in racial profiling, whether it be conscious or subconscious, the trust of the entire community can be, and will be, lost.  Law enforcement agents should not endorse or act upon stereotypes, attitudes, or beliefs that a person’s race, ethnicity, appearance, religious affiliation, or national origin increases that person’s general propensity to act unlawfully.

Numerous studies have demonstrated over the past few years that racial profiling is all too prevalent throughout law enforcement today.  One study has shown that approximately 72% of all routine traffic stops on an interstate in the Northeast occur with African American drivers despite the fact that African Americans make up only about 17% of the driving population.  Another 2004 study showed that approximately thirty-two million Americans, a number equivalent to the population of Canada, report they have already been victims of racial profiling at some point.  Other studies have shown similar disparities in stops and searches by federal, state and local law enforcement agents.

We need to do all we can to see that this problem is addressed sooner rather than later, so that we can begin to rebuild the trust for law enforcement and law enforcement agents within communities of color.  Furthermore, numerous studies have demonstrated that racial profiling is not only an ineffective tool in law enforcement, it is damaging as well as counter -productive.

The End Racial Profiling Act is important in that it not only specifically defines and bans the insidious practice of racial profiling, but it also mandates data collection to try to assess the true extent of the problem, withholds federal funds from state and local governments who persist in this odious and counter-productive practice, provides training and other assistance to state and local jurisdictions to help them address the problem and allows victims to seek injunctive relief.

In closing, this crucial legislation has the full and enthusiastic support and backing of the NAACP from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, from the North to the South, and we strongly support its speedy enactment.

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.  You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.

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