In Advance Of Holiday Weekend, ACLU of Arizona Offers "Bust Card," Urges Racial Profiling Victims to Report Abuses
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX – Amid growing concern that people are being targeted by law enforcement even before Arizona’s new racial profiling law takes effect, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today issued an updated “Know Your Rights” bust card that spells out the rights and responsibilities of citizens and non-citizens when they are stopped by police.
The bust card is being issued in conjunction with “Travel Alerts” posted today by other ACLU affiliates that warn travelers their civil rights could be violated while passing through or staying in Arizona. Racial profiling victims are also being urged to contact the ACLU of Arizona with any complaints they may have.
The unconstitutional law – known as SB 1070 – is not scheduled to go into effect until July 29, but the ACLU of Arizona has already received complaints from people who believe they were profiled by law enforcement because they look “foreign.” Since April, the ACLU of Arizona has received a steady increase in reports involving individuals who were asked to confirm their identity or citizenship status.
SB 1070 requires law enforcement agents to demand “papers” from people they stop who they suspect are “unlawfully present” in the United States. If individuals are unable to prove to officers that they have permission to be here, they may be detained indefinitely without probable cause to believe they have committed a crime.
“In Arizona, SB 1070 has caused relations between community members and police to go from bad to worse,” said ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler Meetze. “Two of the largest police departments in the state – DPS and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office – have had to defend against accusations of racial profiling in Court. On top of that, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for suspected civil rights violations.”
The ACLU and other organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the Arizona immigration law in May, but until the law is struck down, the ACLU warns that individuals should be aware of their rights if stopped by police, especially while they are traveling on busy highways during the July 4th weekend.
The case challenging SB 1070 is the third ACLU lawsuit against government officials in Arizona on behalf of a besieged minority community. In August 2009, the organization filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Latino citizen and lawful resident who were forcibly transported by MCSO deputies to the site of a worksite raid. In addition, the group’s lawsuit challenging unlawful stops of Latino drivers and passengers by MCSO is moving forward following the discovery of thousands of documents MCSO had previously failed to disclose. The parties are scheduled to go back to court July 16.
“Our goal is to protect Arizona residents from misconduct by law enforcement, and to make sure they know their rights should they be subject to it,” added Meetze. “Unfortunately, we’re already hearing stories about individuals being harassed by police based on their accent, appearance, or where they come from. It is important for people to understand that they have the right to politely decline additional questioning, to refuse a consent search, and to ask to speak to an attorney. These rights are not just reserved to citizens of this country but are available to everyone.”
The downloadable ACLU “bust card” contains information on coping with vehicle stops and questioning by police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and the FBI. In addition, the ACLU has made available a Q&A flier in both English and Spanish. The organization is urging individuals who have experienced racial profiling by police to complete a new online complaint form at: http://www.acluaz.org/intake/html/ or call 602-650-1854.
To view the “bust card” on your mobile device, go to:
More information about the Arizona law, including an ACLU video and slide show, can be found at: www.acluaz.org
To read the ACLU of Arizona’s report documenting the on-going problem of racial profiling by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, visit: www.acluaz.org/DrivingWhileBlackorBrown.pdf
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