In the wake of the recent shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Stanford, Fla., members of Congress and other law enforcement and civil rights leaders told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that racial profiling in America must end. It was the committee's third hearing in over 12 years and the latest one seeking passage of legislation. The hearing also sought Justice Department action to end what many believe led to the death of Martin, an African-American teen shot to death by George Zimmerman who reportedly followed Martin because he was Black.
The good news is there is broad bipartisan support to pass the End Racial Profiling Act (Bill S-1670) introduced by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in October 2011. In addition, several of the nation's top chiefs of police and other law enforcement officials are supporting efforts by civil rights organizations to eliminate state and federal policies and close loopholes that obscure the basis upon which police can do their jobs.
As Rep. Judy Chu (D-Cal.) said racial profiling makes Americans feel "unsafe, unequal or un-American because of their race or faith." The bad news is that laws such as Florida's "stand your ground" law has been adopted by many other states across the country and greater effort will be needed to get this law repealed. But foremost is the issue raised by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) and Hip-Hop President Lennox Yearwood who said black children are being discouraged from venturing into certain neighborhoods, dressing in certain ways, speaking too loudly...just being themselves. And after all of that has been said and done...they may still become a victim of racial profiling for something they cannot change.