Washington, D.C. – The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest and most diverse coalition of civil and human rights organizations, reacted today to the announcement of new legislation introduced by Republican Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and George Voinovich (R-OH) to address the problem of racial profiling.
“While we commend Senators DeWine and Voinovich for their willingness to legislate on this important issue, we are concerned that this bill is a weak response to a serious problem that continues to plague our communities,” said Wade Henderson, Executive Director of LCCR. “The DeWine-Voinovich bill states that racial profiling is ineffective, unconstitutional and has negative effects on both law enforcement agencies and individual subjected to profiling. We agree. That is why we believe Congress should ban racial profiling. President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft have called for such a ban, and it is time for Congress to enact one.”
Last June, Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Representative John Conyers (D-MI) introduced a bill, the End Racial Profiling Act of 2001 (S. 989; H.R. 2074), that would help to achieve meaningful progress in the battle against racial profiling. Their bill would prohibit racial profiling, establish remedies for victims of profiling, provide funds for police training and other programs to strengthen accountability and improve community relations, and provide for the collection of data that will enable officials to detect profiling where it occurs and take steps to eradicate it. The Feingold/Conyers bill has bipartisan support from 16 Senators and 92 House members.
In contrast, the DeWine-Voinovich bill merely establishes an education and awareness program about racial profiling. And it does not authorize data collection, a step that Attorney General Ashcroft has said he supports. “Unfortunately, Cincinnati and countless communities nationwide have already been educated, in the most direct ways possible, about the harms of racial and ethnic profiling,” said Mr. Henderson. “What they need now is concrete legal protection against profiling. The DeWine-Voinovich bill is not the answer to the problem.”