ACLU Urges CA Governor Davis to Pass "Driving While Black or Brown" Bill

September 9, 1999 12:00 am

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


SACRAMENTO — Following the state assembly’s overwhelming passage of a bill to collect racial data on police traffic stops, the American Civil Liberties Union affiliates of California today urged Gov. Gray Davis to enact this crucial piece of legislation.

Gov. Davis has until October 10 to sign or veto S.B. 78, the California Traffic Stops authored by Senator Kevin Murray (D-Culver City), which would require law enforcement to collect data regarding the race and ethnicity of all motorists stopped by the police.

“Today’s passage of SB 78 has handed Governor Davis a unique opportunity, not to dwell on the problem of race-based stops, but to focus on reaching a solution,” said Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California. “By collecting this data and sharing it with the public, police departments across California will send a strong message that racial profiling will not be tolerated.”

More than two dozen law enforcement agencies in California have already agreed to collect data regarding the race and ethnicity of motorists stopped by police, the ACLU said. Earlier this year, President Clinton issued an Executive Order requiring all federal law enforcement agencies to begin collecting data regarding the race and ethnicity of people stopped by officers. Connecticut and North Carolina have already passed measures similar to the California bill.

“The collection of this data will allow us to move beyond accusations and denials and towards genuine solutions to the problem of racial profiling ,” said Michelle Alexander, Director of the ACLU of Northern California’s Racial Justice Project.

“For decades, people of color have been offered lots of talk and no action with respect to racist police practice,” she added. “The time for dealing with this issue in a responsible manner is long overdue. We are counting on Governor Davis to take this small but significant step in the right direction.”

Minority law enforcement organizations including the National Black Police Association and the National Latino Peace Officers Association support SB 78, the ACLU said. The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) representing 3,000 police professionals, describes itself as a “staunch supporter” of such legislation, and the 40,000 members of the National Black Police Association (NBPA) has also said that it supports the legislation “without reservation.”

The national ACLU has undertaken a major initiative to put an end to discriminatory police stops, including the issuance of a new report on the problem of racial profiling. The report — Driving While Black: Racial Profiling On Our Nation’s Highways — cited statistics gathered by the ACLU in the course of legal challenges in several states and media stories from around the nation in making the case that skin color is being used as a substitute for evidence and a ground for suspicion.

The report is available online at /profiling/report/index.html.

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Smart Justice

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Smart Justice

Smart Justice issue image

The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50% and to challenge racism in the criminal legal system.