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Public Statements

Introduction of the Racial Profiling Prevention Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill, the Racial Profile Prevention Act, to reestablish a federal grant program for states that desire to develop racial profiling laws, collect and maintain data on traffic stops, design programs to reduce racial profiling, and train law enforcement officers, which we were successful in getting included in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005. Although that grant program was just a small piece of the large SAFETEA-LU bill, nearly half of the states participated in the program for multiple years. This experience speaks to the usefulness of the program to states. Racial profiling is a form of racial discrimination that was thrust back into the forefront of national concern by the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, who died one year ago today.

Racial profiling on roads built with federal funds is a violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, because it amounts to a government subsidy of discrimination. However, while racial profiling remains more widespread in our country than most other forms of discrimination, there is little experience in developing legislation in this sensitive area to address racial profiling while allowing for appropriate law enforcement. My bill would help states to better develop their racial profiling laws and help train law enforcement to avoid these problems.

My bill imposes no mandates on states. Instead, it simply authorizes a grant program, but does not require states to participate. However, it provides resources that many states and localities clearly need if they are to curb racial profiling.

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