ACLU Calls on California Governor to Support Mandatory Data Collection Next Year
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN FRANCISCO — In light of Gallup Poll findings released today on racial profiling, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California today called on Governor Gray Davis to support mandatory data collection legislation next year.
In an open letter to Governor Davis, the ACLU pointed out that the Gallup Poll found that about 60 percent of adults nationwide said that racial profiling is widespread, and 81 percent of all adults believe the practice is wrong. The poll further indicated that 77 percent of African Americans believe that racial profiling is widespread, and that 4 out of 10 African Americans have been victims of the practice.
“The poll shows that Governor Davis is out of touch with mainstream America in claiming that racial profiling is not a widespread problem,” said Michelle Alexander, Director of the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU of Northern California. “The question now is whether he will continue to listen to extremist police unions that donate to his campaigns, or whether he will listen to the clear majority, who recognize that racial profiling is widespread and must be stopped.”
In October, Governor Davis vetoed SB78, the California Traffic Stops Statistics Act that would have required law enforcement agencies to collect data regarding the race and ethnicity of motorists who are stopped. The bill had overwhelming bipartisan support. Senator Kevin Murray will reintroduce the bill next year.
The text of the letter to Governor Davis follows
December 9, 1999
Governor Gray Davis
Office of the Governor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Davis:
A few months ago, you vetoed SB 78, the California Traffic Stops Statistics Act. That bill would have required law enforcement agencies in California to collect data regarding the race and ethnicity of motorists who are stopped and searched so that it would be possible to determine, for the first time, whether and to what extent law enforcement agencies in California are engaged in racial profiling. The bill was supported by civil rights organizations, unions, minority law enforcement organizations, minority professional organizations, and thousands of concerned citizens, who recognize that the time is long overdue for state government to take the problem of racial profiling seriously. You, however, vetoed the data collection bill on the ground that “there is no evidence that this practice is taking place statewide.”
The Gallup Poll released today suggests that most people, of all races and ethnicities, disagree with you. A new Gallup Poll Social Audit on Black/White Relations in the U.S. reports that approximately 60% of national adults aged 18 and older say that racial profiling is widespread, and 81% of all adults believe the practice is clearly wrong.
The poll further indicates that 77% of African Americans believe that racial profiling is widespread, and that 4 out of 10 African Americans have been victims of the practice. Well-educated, higher-income African Americans are as likely to report being targeted on the basis of race as those with lower levels of education and lower incomes.
The poll did not compare the attitudes of Latinos with respect to racial profiling to other racial and ethnic groups. However, the responses to our hotline indicate that, in California, Latinos are targeted at least as much as African Americans. More than 2,000 people throughout California have called our hotline to report discriminatory police stops. These calls have come from predominately white suburbs and rural areas, as well as large cities.
Clearly, racial profiling is not limited to a “few specific areas,” as you indicated in your veto message. It is occurring on a widespread basis throughout the state of California. Most people, of all races, know this.
We urge you to demonstrate leadership on this important issue, by making a commitment today to support the data collection bill when it is reintroduced by Senator Kevin Murray next year. Communities of color have waited long enough for politicians to offer more than rhetoric when it comes to discriminatory police practices. We hope that you will choose to be on the right side of history on this issue. We will not rest until discriminatory police practices in this state are a distant memory.
Director, Racial Justice Project
Enclosure: Gallup Poll Social Audit on Black/White Relations (December 9, 1999)
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