Major Civil Rights Groups Outraged by Administration’s Attempt to Sweep Evidence of Widespread Racial Profiling Under the Bureaucratic Rug

Media 08.30.05

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, joined nine other major civil rights organizations in expressing deep concerns about recent newspaper reports that reveal an attempt by the administration to suppress the findings of an April 2005 research report which found evidence of widespread racial profiling.

In February 2001, before a joint session of Congress, President Bush acknowledged that “racial profiling is wrong,” and vowed to “end it in America.” The research report, authored by career statisticians at the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), found clear and significant racial disparities in the rate at which motorists are searched by local law enforcement. It found that while black and Hispanic drivers are more likely than white motorists to be searched by law enforcement during traffic stops, they are less likely to be harboring contraband.

“This is just another example of the administration saying one thing on racial profiling and doing another,” said Wade Henderson, LCCR’s executive director. “The president has promised to address racial profiling but now we find that his own administration worked to stifle findings of rampant profiling. We need leadership now, from the president and our attorney general, to fulfill the president’s promise to end the discredited practice of racial and ethnic profiling.”

LCCR called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct a full investigation into the matter to determine whether political appointees inappropriately interfered with the release of the report and tried to suppress its findings. “Clearly, there was an attempt to sweep uncomfortable racial profiling facts under the bureaucratic rug,” said Henderson. “The Senate Judiciary Committee has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this.”

LCCR was joined on the letter by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the NAACP, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, National Council of La Raza, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Organization of Chinese Americans, National Urban League, and Amnesty International USA.