Congress: End Racial Profiling Now
The story is all too common: A Black or brown person is walking down the street, driving their car, or sitting in a cafe, when a bystander calls the police based on the assumption that they are somehow breaking the law.
In far too many of these cases, the only “crime” was being a person of color. And that’s no reason to call the police.
Congress can address the crisis gripping our country by passing the End Racial Profiling Act, which defines racial profiling as the practice of relying on perceived race, religion, or other identity markers when calling for law enforcement. The bill requires law enforcement agencies to provide training on racial profiling, collect data, and codify procedures for handling complaints. And under the bill, the Justice Department would have to withhold or reduce funding to public agencies that refuse to comply.
The End Racial Profiling Act also aims to make the policing of communities of color more transparent by supporting programs to collect data on stops and searches that lead to arrests and on best practices to eliminate racial profiling.
Our country’s racial profiling crisis made headlines recently when a Starbucks employee called the police on two Black customers. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Recently, two Native American college students were reported to campus police for looking “suspicious.” In California, a neighbor called 911 when a Black musician rented an AirBnb next door. And at Yale University, someone called the police on a Black student who was simply napping in the student lounge.
These are just the cases that made headlines. For many people of color, these occurrences are a part of daily life.
Racial profiling is not only hurtful and wrong, but it can have deadly consequences. Police are more likely to use excessive and lethal force against people of color, and these interactions often end in death. People of color are killed by the police at a disproportionate rate compared to their share of this country’s population. They are also less likely to be armed than white people killed by the police. Of all unarmed victims of police killings, two-thirds are people of color.
It’s the sad truth: One phone call about a “suspicious” Black or brown person minding their own business can end in their murder at the hands of the police.
Racial profiling is an ugly reminder of our country’s past, and the stakes are too high to wait any longer to act. Congress must pass the End Racial Profiling Act now. Only then can this country move forward and takes steps toward true equality for all citizens, regardless of race.