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Report shows racial profiling is alive, well and thriving in U.S. communities

LatinaLista — If the signing into law of Arizona’s SB 1070 accomplished anything positive, it was that it heightened awareness of racial profiling.

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While people in authority like to say that racial profiling isn’t practiced within their ranks, it’s a known fact that it’s practiced all the time by ordinary citizens. From the thugs who go on the prowl for Hispanic victims to rob, and in some cases beat to death, to store managers who keep tabs on certain ethnicities as they do their shopping.

So, to think that law enforcement doesn’t racially profile isn’t a realistic proclamation. To underscore just how widespread racial profiling is, the Rights Working Group released a report last month entitled Faces of Racial Profiling: A Report from Communities Across America.

What they found is that while law enforcement says one thing — something else entirely is happening in communities of color.

The report defines racial profiling as:

…”the practice of a law enforcement agent or agency relying to any degree on race, ethnicity, national origin or religion in selecting which individual to subject to routine or spontaneous investigatory activities…”

The report looks at the propensity for law enforcement to use racial profiling in several areas: drug enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, counterterrorism measures and immigration enforcement.

In too many cases, the assumption of guilt based on color, ethnicity or religion overrides evidence to the contrary.

So that the voices of racial profiling victims can be heard in a stronger format, a companion documentary titled Face The Truth: Racial Profiling Across America was filmed.

However, the report and the documentary serve as to strengthen the call to Congress to stop racial profiling by passing the End Racial Profiling Act of 2010.

The End Racial Profiling Act was first introduced in 2001 with strong bipartisan support. Unfortunately Sept. 11 slowed the bill’s momentum. In the nearly 10 years that passed, the practice of racial profiling expanded and continues to alienate and plague our communities. Last week the End Racial Profiling Act of 2010 was reintroduced with many of the provisions we have been working towards.

When looked at from a different angle, racial profiling seems to be human nature — like an old bad habit. But we know that with the proper education and awareness bad habits can be broken.

There’s probably no worse habit that assuming the worst of people based on the color of their skin or religion and persecute (prosecute) them for it.

As long as that still happens, no society is as colorblind or enlightened as they would like to claim to be.

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