The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
The Dangers of Racial Profiling
Feature Story by Celeste Berry - 2/27/2002
Before the attacks on September 11, more than 60 percent of Americans believed that racial profiling was an illegal and immoral method of apprehending potential criminals. Most Americans understood that the practice by law enforcement agents of singling people out for obtrusive investigation solely on the basis of their skin color violated all principles of equal protection and civil rights.
Unfortunately, post-September 11 fear has gotten the better of many Americans. On that day, three planes were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; and a fourth was destined to hit the White House had it not crashed beforehand in a remote area of Pennsylvania countryside. All 19 of the hijackers of these planes were of Middle Eastern descent.
Americans, understandably anxious of future attacks, became eager for any measure that might protect them from similar attacks, including racial profiling.
According to David Harris in his new book Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work, in a recent poll, most Americans stated that they condoned the practice of subjecting airline passengers whose only crime was being or appearing to be of Middle Eastern descent, to extra and arduous security measures.
Harris and other staunch opponents of racial profiling argue that although at this point in time, these procedures seem “to just make sense” to most Americans, they are actually accomplishing the opposite of what they were implemented to do; they are in fact, impeding our goal of apprehending the real terrorists.
Harris writes that racial profiling is a detrimental tactic for three reasons:
- It enlarges the suspect pool, spreading thin the efforts of law enforcement agents, making their work less effective.
- It forces the law enforcement agents to discard the most telling aspect of a criminal, his/her behavior, in favor of focusing on less credible aspects, perceived national origin.
- Most importantly, it alienates the very people law enforcement agencies need cooperation from to protect their citizens form future terrorism. Any community that feels they are being unfairly targeted for police scrutiny will understandably build a wall of hostility between themselves and the police. This can be very detrimental to the War on Terrorism. The 19 hijackers of September 11 lived in America, and worked, socialized, and practiced their religion with law-abiding members of the Arab-American community. It is very likely that future terrorists may follow their lead. Without the cooperation of the Middle Eastern community, these future terrorists will be more difficult to apprehended.
In an effort to warn Americans of the detrimental effects racial profiling may cause, Harris met with others in the civil rights community to support the The End Racial Profiling Act of 2001 (H.R. 20754/ S. 989). Although drafted to address pre-9/11 racial profiling such as the disparate treatment of African, Hispanic, and Asian motorists by law enforcement agents, this bill has evolved to include a ban on the unequal treatment of Arab-Americans as well. Senator Russell Feingold and Representative John Conyers, who drafted the bill in the Senate and House respectively, state that now more than ever, racial profiling must be eliminated in all state and local law enforcement agencies. They repeat that by allowing racial profiling to continue, not only will thousands of Americans not receive the equal treatment guaranteed to them under the 14th Amendment, but all Americans will be put under greater risk of terrorists attacks. Neither one of these options is acceptable.