ACLU, Civil Rights Groups Introduce Comprehensive Bill to Address Racial Profiling

Posted: Feb, 23, 2004

The ACLU of Rhode Island joined with civil rights groups today to formally announce the introduction of comprehensive legislation in the General Assembly to address the widespread documented problem of racial profiling by police in traffic stops. The legislation, being sponsored by Rep. Joseph Almeida and Sen. Rhoda Perry, is the community’s formal response to a Northeastern University study released last summer which showed that the majority of police departments in the state routinely stopped black and Hispanic drivers for traffic violations much more often than whites, and searched their cars much more often as well, even though whites were more likely to be found with contraband when a search was conducted.

Among the groups participating in the news conference were the Urban League of Rhode Island, the R.I. Commission for Human Rights, the NAACP -- Providence Branch, the R.I. State Council of Churches, the R.I. Civil Rights Roundtable, R.I. Association of Affirmative Action Professionals (RIAAP), Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), the R.I. Coalition for Affirmative Action (RICAA), and the Providence Human Relations Commission.

Some of the highlights of the thorough legislation include:

Onna Moniz-John, affirmative action officer for the City of East Providence and a member of the former Traffic Stops Study Advisory Committee said today: “It’s not enough to acknowledge that racial profiling exists. Now is the time to do something about it. This legislation should help police departments and the public to once and for all stop racial profiling.”