ACLU Demands Release of Information on Racial Profiling and Use of Force by New Orleans Police
NEW ORLEANS -- In response to news reports of an assault on an African American woman by three white police officers, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana today filed a Public Records Act request with the New Orleans Police Department seeking information on racial profiling and police misconduct. The civil liberties group is calling for a swift and impartial response to the assault, and seeks systemic reform of the police department.
"The ACLU hopes that the police department will take this assault incident very seriously, and consider criminal charges against the officers," said Katie Schwartzmann, a Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Louisiana. "Fairness demands that police officers get the same treatment as would any other person who commits an assault. If the evidence supports an assault charge, they should be prosecuted."
New Orleans is not new to excessive force problems within the police department. Recent months have seen the beating of Robert Davis on Bourbon Street, and the shooting of Anthony Hayes on St. Charles Avenue. The problems were rampant before the storm, with the arrest of one officer on rape charges and, in an unrelated incident, the death of Raymond Robair. Both the death of Robair and the rape occurred in the month preceding Hurricane Katrina.
The ACLU filed the Public Records Request in partnership with Safe Streets/ Strong Communities, a coalition of lawyers, advocates and concerned citizens working toward a new criminal justice system in New Orleans.
"Based on complaints we receive, we believe that police violence and unwarranted stops disproportionately affect people of color," said Schwartzmann. "It's time to take a look at whether the New Orleans Police Department is conducting the trainings required by its profiling policy. We also need to look at the volume of complaints from citizens, and the ultimate disposition of those complaints. This is not a new problem. This is not a Katrina problem. The department must take steps to reprimand any improper behavior in this incident, and it must also take steps toward systemic reform."
Persons who have had problems with police violence or racial profiling are encouraged to fill out an ACLU complaint form, which can be found at: www.laaclu.org/Complaints/complaint_form1.htm
The ACLU's request for documents is online at: www.laaclu.org/040606NOPDPRR.pdf