ACLU Report Documents Racial Profiling Nationwide

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
June 30, 2009 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States


A report published today indicates that the policies of the Bush Administration have resulted in a continuing and widespread problem of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies. The report, produced by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rights Working Group, documents the disproportionate stopping and searching of racial minorities by law enforcement agencies.

The report was submitted today to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

“Racial profiling remains a widespread and pervasive problem throughout the U.S., impacting the lives of millions of people in the African American, Asian, Latino, South Asian, Arab and Muslim communities,” said Chandra Bhatnagar, staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program and the main author of the report. “The U.S. government must take urgent, direct action to rid the nation of the scourge of racial and ethnic profiling and bring this country into conformity with both the Constitution and international human rights obligations.”

The report indicates that under the Bush Administration policies since 9/11, there are widespread reports of racial profiling affecting members of the minority community as they travel and go about their business. One contributing factor is the recent shift of the federal immigration authorities’ enforcement work to local police agencies, causing an increase in local reports of racial profiling.

In Maine, the NAACP continues to collect reports of cases where people say their contacts with police have been influenced by their status as a racial minority.

“While Maine has made a lot of progress in ending racial profiling, we still have a lot of work to do on this issue,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

The issue of racial profiling was debated in this year’s session of the state Legislature, which enacted LD 1442, which established a committee to monitor policies on this issue and work with state and local law enforcement agencies to make sure that there is effective training for law enforcement professionals. The Committee, which will include members ranging from the Commissioner of Public Safety to police officers and leaders of the civil rights community, will begin to issue annual reports in 2010.

“The legislation creating this committee resulted from effective cooperation between civil rights advocates and the law enforcement community,” said Bellows. “We are hopeful that this will provide a structure to ensure that racial profiling is Maine will no longer exist,” said Bellows.

Nationally, the report issued today calls for the enactment of federal legislation banning racial profiling at all law enforcement levels. That bill, the End Racial Profiling Act, has been stalled in Congress since 1997, and there are renewed calls for its passage with the new Administration.

Here is a link to the report:

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release