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Legislation attempt to end racial profiling

Associated Press | 4/25/2012, 7:09 a.m.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Miami) spoke passionately about the treatment of minority youth, especially African American males, at the hands of law enforcement, referencing the Trayvon Martin case as a “textbook example of racial profiling.”

“When my son learned how to drive, I bought him a cell phone because I knew he would be profiled… and he was,” she said.

In Illinois, said U.S. Senator and Subcommittee member Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), “Hispanic motorists are two to four times more likely to be searched and African Americans are two to three more times more likely to be subject to consent searches than white motorists.”

Pointing out that white motorists were “89 percent more likely than Hispanic motorists and 26 percent more likely than African American motorists to have contraband in their vehicles,” the statistics around incidents of racial profiling “made no sense from a law enforcement” point of view, he added.

The debate has reignited a level of intensity around the topic of racial profiling that has not been seen since the days and months following the 9/11 terror attacks, when Muslim Americans across the country complained of being targeted for their religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Many who testified at last week’s hearing argued that ensuring a strong relationship between Muslims and law enforcement is critical, especially in the continued fight against homegrown terror. Most recently, an Associated Press series documented the New York Police Department’s spying on the Muslim community.

Citing the scandal, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.) reminded fellow lawmakers that “The only thing they were guilty of was practicing Islam.”

Sen. Cardin ended the hearing by recognizing the differing viewpoints and stressing that at its core, the issue is one of “accountability.”

“We serve the public,” he said, and whether elected or appointed, “accountability has to be part of that service.”

The debate around the bill, meanwhile, is expected to continue.


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