Senate Hearing to Probe the Hows and Whys of Racial Profiling

The forum also will examine ways to end the hateful practice.

Posted: 04/11/2012 01:19 PM EDT

President Obama’s election was supposed to be a signal that the United States was ready to put its painful racial history in the past. Instead, it seems the nation has moved backward as it continues to grapple with issues like racial profiling.


How and why it continues to occur, and the subsequent repercussions like the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, will be the topic of a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights hearing on April 17. It will be the first hearing on racial profiling since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


“[The subcommittee] will explore how profiling harms law enforcement and the different faces of racial profiling, including state immigration laws in Alabama and Arizona that subject Hispanic-Americans to heightened scrutiny, discriminatory law enforcement against African-Americans and anti-terrorism efforts that target American Muslims," said subcommittee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).


The Trayvon Martin case did not spark the hearing, although it will certainly come up given its high-profile status. It also will examine proposed solutions to ending racial profiling, such as the End Racial Profiling Act, closing loopholes in the Justice Department’s racial profiling guidance and the agency’s Civil Rights Division’s enforcement of federal civil rights laws to prevent state and local law enforcement agencies from profiling, according to a subcommittee advisory.


A witness list has not yet been posted, but according to a report in The Post and Courier, Dot Scott, president of the Charleston, South Carolina, NAACP, has been invited to testify. She has been a vocal critic of local efforts to crack down on crime in poor, Black neighborhoods, which she’s characterized is in some instances “harassment of good citizens.”


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