At the ACLU, we find ourselves working on issues of racial profiling far too often. It permeates so many of the different areas that we work on. From immigration to school discipline to drug arrests to everyday encounters with the police, the sad fact is that racial profiling exists all across our society, including here in Maine.
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin trial, racial profiling is front and center in our national dialogue. While the circumstances that have put it there are heartbreaking – regardless of how you feel about the verdict – the opportunity to talk about these issues and effect real change is one that we cannot pass up.
Now more than ever, it should be clear that laws matter. That’s why the ACLU is continuing to urge Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act. We’re also calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to release strengthened guidance on the use of race in federal law enforcement. Here in Maine, we’ll continue our focus on passing common sense reforms that help to fix the inequalities in our criminal justice system.
There is a justifiable anger in this country over racial profiling and the answer must be systemic reform. As we look across the landscape of civil liberties issues facing the United States today, we cannot deny that race plays a role in a very significant number of them. We don’t have to kid ourselves that the problem will fully go away with one policy change or one new law, but we also must embrace the notion that every action we take to address racial profiling will move us one step closer to a more perfect union.