ACLU to Distribute 50,000 Racial Profiling Resource Kits at Black College Super Bowl

December 14, 1999 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — Escalating its attack on racial profiling, the American Civil Liberties Union is distributing 50,000 “Driving While Black or Brown” kits to attendees of the McDonald’s Heritage Bowl (also known as the “Black College Super Bowl”) in Atlanta this weekend. The kits will provide attendees of the four-day festivities (Dec 15-18) with the tools they need to help end the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies.

“The ACLU is launching an all-out assault on racial profiling in the coming year using all the weapons in our arsenal — state and federal legislation, local policy and training reforms, public education, community organizing and, where necessary, litigation,” said John Crew, National Coordinator of the ACLU’s Campaign Against Racial Profiling. The ACLU recently hired Crew, a respected police practices expert, as a full time national coordinator of its campaign.

“While public officials are learning that racial profiling is a problem that can no longer be ignored, too often the response is empty rhetoric,” Crew said. “Talk alone will not root out this deeply corrosive practice. Americans must insist that public officials take concrete action to stop racial profiling.”

The ACLU resource kits to be distributed at the event include a sample letter to members of Congress urging support for a bill that addresses the problem of racial profiling, stickers with the phone number of the ACLU’s toll free hotline (1-877-6-PROFILE) for reporting race-based traffic stops, a wallet-sized copy of the ACLU’s “bust card” explaining what to do if stopped by the police, and information on the progress of national, state and local efforts to address the problem of racial profiling.

A major national poll released just last week by Gallup revealed that 59 percent of the American public believes that racial profiling is widespread and an overwhelming 81 percent disapproves of its use by police.

The ACLU said that Americans can hold their elected officials accountable for the problem of racial profiling by asking their state legislators and members of the U.S. Congress to support bills that would mandate data collection. In 1999, only two of 20 proposed state bills were passed. Heavy public pressure is needed for more progress.

“We believe every police agency should show its commitment to stopping racial profiling by voluntarily collecting data on the race of drivers stopped by officers,” Crew said, noting that 100 have agreed to do so in the last year.

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