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National Bill Targets Racial Profiling

Today, join advocates and individuals around the country for a coordinated day of online action to take a stand against racial profiling!

Please enter the letter below at Virginia Senator Jim Webb's contact page and urge his support for the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA – S. 1670).

Senator Jim Webb's contact page

Subject Area: Crime/Law Enforcement

Dear Senator Webb,

As your constituent, I urge you to co-sponsor S. 1670, the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (ERPA).This crucial legislation would ban profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or gender.  On October 6, 2011, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced this bill and Representative John Conyers introduced the House version, HR 3618, in December of 2011. 

Racial profiling unfairly singles out people in our communities.  For example, African-American and Latino Americans are stopped, searched and frisked for contraband while they are driving or walking much more often than whites.  People who are perceived to be Latino or who appear "foreign" have been detained and questioned about their immigration status by police officers.  They are targeted on the street, at work and even at home with their families. And increasingly, Arabs, Middle Easterners, Muslims, Sikhs and South Asians have been targeted as "terrorism suspects," often detained by law enforcement for lengthy questioning in the name of "national security," and placed under surveillance because of their religion or national origin.

Racial profiling is ineffective and alienates members of our communities.  When communities believe that law enforcement agents are biased or unjust, they lose trust and confidence in those that are meant to protect them.  Community members then become less likely to come forward for police protection when they are victimized. This makes all of us less safe.

ERPA was introduced in response to mounting evidence that demonstrates the ineffectiveness and damage caused by the practice of racial profiling. If ERPA passes it would:

·      prohibit the use of profiling based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin or gender by any federal, state, local or Indian tribal law enforcement agency;

·      give individuals recourse if they have been unfairly targeted by such practices;

·      institute programs to eliminate racial profiling that would require training for law enforcement agents, data collection, and procedures for responding to complaints;

·      permit the Attorney General (AG) to withhold grants from law enforcement agencies not complying with the Act and allow the AG to provide grants to agencies that are attempting to develop and implement best practices to eliminate racial profiling; and

·      mandate that the Attorney General submit periodic reports to Congress on any discriminatory policing practices to ensure that the intent of the bill is being met over time.

I urge you to co-sponsor the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011. I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Senator Jim Webb's contact page

BACKGROUND

Racial Profiling is the law enforcement practice of targeting and/or treating individuals differently based on their perceived race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or gender.  It is pervasive across the United States and continues largely unchecked, violating constitutional and human rights. Racial profiling has proven ineffective in fighting crime, and because it relies on stereotypes, innocent people are harmed and degraded, leading to a loss of trust in law enforcement.

The End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (ERPA) would ban profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement based on race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin.

ERPA takes these important steps to ban racial profiling:

* Makes it unlawful for federal, state, local, or Indian tribal law enforcement to profile based on race, religion, ethnicity or national origin;
* Creates a private right of action for victims of profiling, which would allow individuals who believe they have been subject to racial profiling to sue the agent or agency they believe to have violated ERPA;
* Allows the U.S. Attorney General to withhold grants from state law enforcement agencies that are not complying with ERPA;
* Requires training on racial profiling for law enforcement agents;
* Requires data collection and monitoring mechanisms such as complaint processes; and
* For the first time, ERPA prohibits racial profiling in the context of law enforcement surveillance activities.

 
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