Key Federal Black Lawmakers Challenge California Governor on Veto of Traffic Stop Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters was joined by Congressman John Conyers, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee and leader of the Congressional Black Caucus on the issue of racial profiling, in calling for Governor Gray Davis to revisit his veto of legislation that would require the collection of racial demographic data for all individuals stopped and searched by California law enforcement officers.
According to a press release issued today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters stated, “With the recent overwhelming evidence of the practice of racial profiling around the country, the California legislature passed a bi-partisan bill requiring law enforcement to collect data on the race of all drivers stopped and searched by police. Governor Davis vetoed this bill, and instead promised to sign a watered down bill that does not include data collection or any other form of police accountability.” The former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus added that, “Governor Davis’ refusal to sign a data collection bill to address the issue of racial profiling will be a key issue at the Democratic National Convention. Data collection is critical to any meaningful effort to address the serious problem of racial profiling that has plagued communities of color for decades.” (More information on the California racial profiling controversy is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w062100a.html , http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w052100a.html , http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w060700b.html , and http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w042800a.html.)
“Nothing is more important to developing a solution to this problem than the gathering meaningful data. Civil rights organizations and news organizations have spent considerable resources documenting patterns of abuse whereby African American motorists are randomly stopped as much as ten times more frequently than are white motorists,” Congressman Conyers said. “Since introducing federal legislation three years ago in Congress, the issue of racial profiling has made its way into mainstream political debate across the country, and now promises to be a prominent part of the presidential race. Even Republicans in Congress now argue that profiling is intolerable.” (More information on the federal legislation is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/n030100a.html and http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/n033000b.html .)
Seven states have already enacted data collection legislation. In fact, on July 25th Republican governor Lincoln Almond of Rhode Island signed into law the most comprehensive data collection measure to date. Six other states have also enacted data collection legislation signed by both Republican and Democratic governors. California is the only state where a Governor has vetoed the legislation. (More information on the Rhode Island law and other state legislation is available at: http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w072600a.html and http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/w072400c.html .)
Congresswoman Maxine Waters expressed outrage at the Davis veto, noting that “Los Angeles is a city that has been plagued by problems of racial profiling and police abuse. We have to address racial profiling on the battleground where it is a particular problem.”
Congressman Conyers said, “I and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus will contact legislators and executives in key states asking that they join hands with us to take the first step toward ending this residual, de facto “Jim Crow” practice that continues to persist.”
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