Forum Calls On Congress and Administration to End Racial Profiling

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–October 27, 2011.  More than 50 policy experts, and others across the country via live stream and Twitter, joined Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and the ACLU Washington Legislative Office for a discussion today about the desperate need for Congress and the Obama Administration to end racial profiling in law enforcement. A recording of the event will be available online starting Friday at

The forum called on Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) and for the Administration to change agency-run programs and guidelines that lead to profiling. The discussion focused on three prominent forms of racial profiling: historic racism against African-Americans in community and drug enforcement, the post-9/11 intelligence gathering and racial mapping particularly of Arab Muslims and South Asians and the profiling of Latinos, Asians and other people of color in the context of immigration and border enforcement.

“Before there was even a name for it, racial profiling has been engrained in our country’s law enforcement practices,” said ACLU Washington Legislative Office Director Laura W. Murphy. “But racial profiling not only goes against our Constitution and our country’s value for equality – it also hinders law enforcement officials from doing their job. While Americans tend to think about racial profiling in isolated circumstances, the thread tying it all together is plain and simple discrimination.” 

Joining Ellison and Murphy on the panel were ACLU Senior Policy Counsel Mike German and ACLU Legislative Counsels Joanne Lin and Jennifer Bellamy.

ERPA was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Oct. 6 to prevent law enforcement from subjecting a person to heightened scrutiny based on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin, except when there is trustworthy information, relevant to the locality and timeframe, that links a person of a particular race, ethnicity, national origin or religion to an identified criminal incident or scheme. In addition to defining and explicitly prohibiting racial profiling, ERPA will mandate racial profiling training and data collection, authorize the grants for the development and implementation of best policing practices and require periodic reports from the attorney general on any continuing discriminatory practices. The legislation is also expected to also be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, following a House Judiciary Committee hearing on racial profiling Nov. 4.

“For years, many of our political leaders have vowed to put an end to racial profiling,” Murphy concluded. “Attorney General Eric Holder has made it clear that ending the practice of racial profiling is a priority for the Obama administration. And certain members of Congress have echoed that sentiment. Now is the time for us to come together and end this unlawful practice.”