LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — The death of Trayvon Martin is one reason behind renewed efforts by 17 U.S. Senators and 40 Representatives, including seven local lawmakers, to pass a bill that aims to end legal racial profiling.
“Recent events demonstrate that racial profiling remains a divisive issue that strikes at the very foundation of our democracy,” Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) said when he introduced the bill in the House of Representatives Tuesday.
“Though the death of Trayvon Martin was not the result of a law enforcement encounter, the issues of race and reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct are so closely linked in the minds of the public that his death cannot be separated from the law enforcement profiling debate,” he added.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is the main sponsor of the Senate version of the legislation. Also behind the twin bills are Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen Jr. (D-Md.), Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) and Del. Eleanor Norton (D-DC.)
“We need a uniform definition of racial profiling so that law enforcement can concentrate on investigating real crimes and real leads, and men and women across the country can feel secure that they are not being pulled over or harassed by law enforcement solely based on their race, religion, national origin, or ethnicity,” Cardin said.
“The vast majority of law enforcement officials, who put their lives on the line every day, work with professionalism, diligence, and fidelity to the rule of law. But racial profiling is legal in far too many states and we need to end this bad policy now.”
This is the second time Cardin and Conyers have been partners on this legislation, the first version of which was introduced in 2011. Its main goal is to prohibit law enforcement from engaging in acts of racial profiling, and it would grant victims of profiling “the right to obtain declaratory or injunctive relief.”
The bill would also:
- Require federal law enforcement agencies to maintain adequate policies and procedures to eliminate racial profiling and to cease existing practices that permit racial profiling.
- Require state or local governmental entities or state, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies that apply for grants under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and the Cops on the Beat Program to certify that they maintain adequate policies and procedures for eliminating racial profiling and have eliminated any existing practices that permit or encourage racial profiling.
- Authorize the Attorney General to award grants and contracts for the collection of data relating to racial profiling and for the development of best practices and systems to eliminate racial profiling.
- Require the Attorney General to issue regulations for the collection and compilation of data on racial profiling and for the implementation of the Act.
The End Racial Profiling Act has been endorsed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Rights Working Group, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, the Sikh Coalition and over 130 other national, state, and local civil and legal rights organizations.
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