WASHINGTON, D.C. Following the Department of Justice’s release yesterday of new racial profiling guidance, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) issued the following statement:
“The Lawyers’ Committee appreciates the Department of Justice’s, and particularly Attorney General Eric Holder’s, diligence in ensuring the release of this long-awaited guidance for federal law enforcement on racial profiling. We are pleased that the guidance expands the definition to include gender, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation and religion. We are also heartened to see some critical loopholes closed, such as the elimination of racial profiling in routine or spontaneous law enforcement activities, such as ordinary traffic stops,” said Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Barbara Arnwine. “However, this guidance is not comprehensive of all the needed critical reforms and contains major problematic loopholes and exceptions which undermine the goal of combatting racial profiling.”
The Lawyers’ Committee is concerned about the following issues in the new guidance:
- Allows for the continued racial profiling of Muslims and the Muslim community.
- Does not include state and local law enforcement, unless participating in federal enforcement taskforces.
- Allows for data gathering and mapping of racial, ethnic and religious communities without individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.
- Is weak by not containing mandatory reporting standards for all protected categories on police misconduct, stops and frisk, and use of deadly force by all law enforcement including state and local law enforcement who receive federal grants and assistance.
- Does not cover Department of Homeland Security officials screening airline passengers or patrolling the nation’s border.
These exclusions are critical missing pieces to the guidance. As we have seen by recent incidents in Ferguson, New York, Arizona and across the country, many of the violations by law enforcement happens at the local level. We urge the Department of Justice, but particularly the Department of Homeland Security to address the needed reforms and make sure that our law enforcement regains the trust of all members of our society.
“This guidance comes at a critical time in our nation, where tensions around race are increasingly high and we are seeing a deep mistrust of law enforcement in our communities which stems from severe police brutality and misconduct,” said Tanya Clay House, public policy director at Lawyers’ Committee. “The release of this guidance is a step in the right direction, but as we all know, just one piece of many long-term systemic reforms that must take place. We look forward to working with President Obama to urge the adoption of this guidance by ALL law enforcement, including DHS and we will continue to work with the Department of Justice to improve upon the guidance as it is implemented in the years to come.”
About the Lawyers’ Committee The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. We celebrated our 50thanniversary in 2013 and continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; criminal justice and environmental justice. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.