Posts Tagged ‘End Racial Profiling Act’

Black actress detained for kissing her White companion: is an end to racial profiling in sight?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 8:30 am by


Actress Daniele Watts was accused of prostitution this weekend after kissing her companion. A Los Angeles Police Officer assumed she was a prostitute because she, a Black woman, kissed her companion, a White man, in public. In the meantime, law enforcement agencies are still trying to figure out how and why Michael Brown was shot and killed. Even now, nearly six years after his inauguration, people still can’t stop talking about President Obama’s race.

Our society is fraught with racial tensions, bigotry and everything in between. What are our lawmakers doing to help? First introduced in 2001 by Sen. Russell Feingold (D. Wisc) and Rep. Jon Coners (D. Mich), the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) has been both popularized and unreasonably shot down in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. So it is no surprise that in the wake of recent  tragedies that people are once more pushing for its passage. But will it finally come to be? Or will it once again succumb as a piece of legislation that is forever wanted but never actualized? (more…)

An implausible inauguration speech

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 10:10 am by

If observers want to criticize the President, they should challenge his derogation in practice of the same values he professes.

Critics of Mr. Obama have described his inaugural address as radical.  But insisting on values as fundamental as “equality before the law” and the “enduring strength of our Constitution” are hardly radical.  Indeed, they are simply restatements of principles that have long united America.

If observers want to criticize the President, they should instead challenge his derogation in practice of the same values he professes in lofty speeches. Rhetoric is no substitute for reality, and given the President’s unfortunate extension of the Bush-Cheney assault on civil liberties, his administration deserves criticism.

Forgotten promises

The President seems no more inclined than his neo-con predecessors to heed longstanding constitutional limits on executive power. Indeed, his first term witnessed several extensions of the Bush-Cheney legacy.

Extrajudicial assassination using armed drone aircraft, the use of unmanned aerial drones for unwarranted domestic spying, the NSA’s dragnet domestic wiretapping, the FBI’s resurrection of COINTELPRO, the unprecedented crackdown on immigrants under President Obama, the use of immigration enforcement as a pretext to create a national biometric identification scheme for all Americans (including citizens), continued racial profiling in the drug war, and the new threat of military detention within the US, all reflect a dark side of President Obama’s legacy.

I’ve written at length about the secrecy pervading the administration’s national security efforts, which butcher constitutional rights in many ways that are unfortunately even worse than the sum of their parts.

If President Obama wants to leave a legacy in his second term, he need cite no transformative agenda. He need merely remember his own campaign promises from 2008, or the need to ensure accountability for documented recent violations by federal agencies, or alternatively the oath of office he adopted again this week.

Several looming policy issues offer opportunities for the administration to finally walk the President’s talk in its second term.


Stop-and-Frisk is going to trial

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 10:18 am by

Stop-and-frisk On Monday, August 27, 2012, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that a class action lawsuit challenging New York’s infamous “stop-and-frisk” policy will go to trial in March 2013. This past May, the Judge determined the suit’s class action status, which was originally filed in 2008 by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CRR). “In granting class-action status to the case the judge wrote that she was giving voice to the voiceless.”

The case, Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al., was filed against the New York City Police Department (NYPD) by four Black men who claimed they were racially profiled by police officers. As CCR states, the lawsuit directly challenges the stop-and-frisk tactic used by the NYPD that has led to increased targeting of Blacks and Latinos in New York City:

Floyd focuses not only on the lack of any reasonable suspicion to make these stops in violation of the Fourth Amendment, but also on the obvious racial disparities in who gets stopped and searched by the NYPD—90 percent of those stopped are Black and Latino, even though these two groups make up only 52 percent of the city’s population—which constitute a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In the lead-up to this decision, CCR released a stop-and-frisk report in July 2012 titled “Stop and Frisk – The Human Impact: The Stories Behind the Numbers, the Effects on our Communities.” CCR’s report details the human impact of the NYPD’s practice on the individual level, by conducting 54 interviews with persons stopped by the NYPD and summarizing their “stories behind the numbers”; on the community level, addressing effects on LGBTQ, immigrant, low-income, and homeless communities, to name a few; and on the neighborhood level, where whole regions are made to fear police officers instead of trust them.

August 2012: promote civil liberties during the congressional recess

Monday, August 27, 2012 at 9:41 am by


With August coming to a close, don’t miss out! With Congress on recess until September 7, there is no better time to bring local voices–like your’s–to the federal debate.

As our congressional representatives make their way home from Washington, we need to make sure they hear from We, the People. Sign up today to help make sure civil liberties are in the debate, and share the link with your friends, neighbors and allies.

To get involved, check out BORDC’s grassroots lobbying toolkit. It provides background information on the NDAA and FISA powers that Congress will consider later this year, as well as the opportunities to restrain those powers through ERPA and the JUSTICE Act.  It also includes talking points and tips on how to most effectively take action while your representatives are back home this summer.

BORDC recommends that concerned Americans urge our federal representatives to:

  • Co-sponsor the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA)
  • Co-sponsor the JUSTICE Act, which would fix surveillance and other abuses under the PATRIOT Act, as well as the 2008 FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act that Congress is set to consider later this year.
  • Repeal the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA, on which Congress also plans to vote later this year.

Signing up will give you access to our August advocacy toolkit, which includes talking points, ideas and how-to-guides for actions, and more.

Together, we can put civil liberties at the forefront of the congressional agenda–and even the presidential debate–this fall.

Raise your voice this month to restore your rights

Friday, August 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm by

Congress,,You have the opportunity to bring civil liberties to the forefront of the presidential debate.

This summer, from August 6 to September 7, members of Congress will return home to meet with their constituents. During this time, representatives will be looking to hear the interests and concerns of constituents like you – presenting a perfect opportunity to express your views and make an impact. Congress is already set to consider several civil rights and civil liberties issues this year, including indefinite domestic military detention, and dragnet NSA surveillance and wiretapping.

Telling our representatives to stand up for our constitutional rights will be insufficient to beat back the national security state. But taking that step remains a critical part of a broader strategy. And it’s a part of the process that only you (and your neighbors) can fill.

Are you ready to raise your voice?

Our federal representatives can take several actions this year to advance constitutional rights, whether by (1) voting to repeal the indefinite domestic military detention powers of the NDAA, (2) supporting the JUSTICE Act to fix dragnet surveillance abuses of the PATRIOT Act alongside FISA standards up for reauthorization this fall, or (3) supporting the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) to address a problem long ignored by our federal government.


The link between gender and racial profiling in the “War on Drugs”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 11:33 am by

The “War on Drugs” is infamous for its heavy association with racial profiling. Eight out of every ten men stopped in New York City’s stop and frisk program is either Latino or African American. This obvious targeting of minority males has lead to strong opposition from people and organizations across the nation. Grassroots efforts are raising awareness and beginning to show positive signs of one day leading to increased accountability for police forces and greater equality for men of all races. But what about women of all races? Is there hope of equality for them?

Studies have shown that racial profiling of ethnic females is comparable to that of ethnic men. Black and Latina women compose 80% of the women stopped or arrested by New York police officers, and these women are oftentimes the members of society who are most vulnerable to violence and harassment at the hands of local officials. Stories of targeted women are haunting. . .

Occupy Anti-Police brutality & Free our Friends marchMalaika Brooks, an eight-months pregnant African American woman, was shot with a fifty thousand volt taser gun by a Seattle police officer while dropping her son off at school. Margarita Acosta, a sixty two year old Puerto Rican grandmother, was beaten and slapped by police officers before being shoved into a van without her shoes or shirt. Frankie Perkins, a black woman accused of having swallowed drugs, was choked to death by police officers who later found her to be innocent of all charges. Jaisha Akins, a five-year old black girl, was handcuffed and dragged out of her elementary school classroom by Florida police.


BORDC’s July 2012 Newsletter

Monday, July 23, 2012 at 7:25 pm by

Constitution in Crisis

July 2012, Vol. 12, No. 7

In this issue:

Aerial drones to deploy across US skies


Grassroots News

Law and Policy

New Resources and Opportunities

USDA challenges racial profiling after untimely death

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 5:50 am by

In May 2011, a man drowned near Forks, Washington, after being chased by U.S. Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) agents. The federal response to the incident reflects a rare bright spot in the struggle to end racial profiling by law enforcement.

The man who drowned in Washington state had been visiting the Olympic National Forest with his long-term female partner, when they were stopped by a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) officer. According to his companion (whose identity has not been disclosed for privacy concerns), the USFS officer was investigating whether they had a permit to harvest salal, a plant that grows in the Pacific Northwest Region. The couple needed an interpreter. But as the Seattle Weekly notes,

Who did [the Forest Service] call? Spanish-speaking locals like [a local] Sheriff’s Department uses? An agency offering interpreter services? No, the Forest Service called the Border Patrol.

In fact, the USFS officer had already called for Border Patrol agents before interacting with the couple, suggesting the interpretation request was mere pretext. When the CBP vehicle arrived, both the complainant and her partner fled on foot.  CBP agents chased the driver, who ran into a nearby river and subsequently drowned.

Unfortunately, CBP’s involvement in this tragedy is not a random occurrence: many other community members of the Olympic Peninsula have experienced racial profiling. As previously highlighted by The New York Times, Leonard found that requesting interpretation assistance from CBP “was merely an excuse to target Latino individuals for immigration enforcement.”

Now the Department of Agriculture (USDA) (which oversees the Forest Service) is taking action to restore civil rights. In May 2012, the USDA’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (OASCR) issued a federal administrative decision in which Assistant Secretary Joe Leonard, Jr. criticized the “discriminatory” practices of the USFS, including using CBP agents for interpreting and security backup during routine stops. More specifically, OASCR found that the Forest Service had discriminated based on race, national origin, and by failing to provide adequate access to an individual proficient in English.

There are four main outcomes from the OASCR decision:

  • It orders the USFS to locally announce the discriminatory finding and provide information on how to file civil rights complaints.
  • USFS must develop and implement a national meaningful language access policy.
  • The Forest Service agent and his supervisor must complete 40 hours of civil rights training within 60 days.
  • The Forest Service is required to develop and implement a national policy on law enforcement data collection to reduce instances of racial profiling.  This would be similar to the regime envisioned under the proposed End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), which remains stalled in Congress after a decade of inaction in the face of a mounting crisis.


Thousands Protest Stop-and-Frisk

Friday, June 29, 2012 at 11:33 am by

New York City marked Father’s Day this year in protest, as thousands silently marched down Fifth Avenue. A sign of the growing opposition to Mayor Michael Blooomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy, this march brought awareness to the NYPD’s increasing use of racial profiling. Yet as Bloomberg stands firm in support of the policy, pressure to repeal the action is expected to rise.

First introduced in 2002, stop-and-frisk was designed to lower rates of violent crime and take guns off the streets. Since then, however, the intention has become mired by abuse. 685,724 people were stopped on the street in 2011, of which over 87 percent were black or Latino. Even more jarring, black and Hispanic males between age 14 and 24 made up 41.6 percent of stops, despite only accounting for 4.7 percent of the city’s population. And of these nearly 700,000 stops, only 780 guns were found and less than six percent were arrested.Mayor Michael Bloomberg

While touting claims that stop-and-frisk “saves lives” and has helped make New York the safest big city in the country, Bloomberg continues to resist allegations of racial profiling. Characterizing the problem as an issue of courtesy and respect, Bloomberg detracts from the real issue of discrimination and injustice within the New York Police Department.

Stretching beyond the confines of the city, instances of racial injustice are spiking around the country, prompting attention at a Federal level. Evidenced by the Senate recently holding their first hearing on racial profiling in over a decade; raising hopes for the resurrection of the long contended End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA).

As Bloomberg holds steady in New York and partisanship remains a deterrent in the Senate however, it is unlikely we can expect to see real improvements on these issues in the coming months.

SCOTUS upholds racial profiling in SB1070 decision

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 11:58 am by

SB1070 Rally @ the White HouseThe Supreme Court of the United States made a decision on Arizona’s infamous immigration enforcement law, SB 1070, this week.  To make a long story short, SCOTUS upheld racial profiling.

The decision made four main points clear:

  1. Police cannot arrest without a warrant.
  2. Being undocumented is not a state crime.
  3. Accepting work as an undocumented person is not illegal.
  4. Police can demand “papers” if they suspect a person is undocumented.

The fourth point, officially known as section 2B, is a decision to uphold racial profiling, because there are no guidelines defining what constitutes suspicion of being undocumented. This policy has only been upheld in relation to the Arizona law, but other states, such as Alabama, have similar laws on the books. Hopefully, other states will see how expensive and unnecessary are programs that promote racial profiling and other civil rights violations. But thankfully, there was more to the Supreme Court’s decision than this terrible news: the Supreme Court struck down three major parts of Arizona immigration law and 287(g) agreements (which deputize local police as immigration enforcement officers) have been suspended.

We cannot allow the institutionalization and legalization of discrimination in America. Congress must consider this when voting on the End Racial Profiling Act and realize that the outcome of that vote should directly reflect this country’s core values: justice, freedom, and equality.

It’s time that we see some of these values in something other than textbooks and postage stamps. We must demand that lawmakers recognize this growing problem in the United States. It’s time to end racial profiling.