WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several national LGBT advocacy organizations have signed onto a national statement calling for new federal legislation to put an end to discriminatory police profiling. The statement comes in response to ongoing strife in Ferguson, Mo., following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
“Last week’s shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the military-style response by the local police to demonstrators, and allegations of racially biased law enforcement are the result of longstanding and corrosive limitations on our nation’s law enforcement policies that allow unlawful profiling to persist across the country,” reads the opening of the letter. “The undersigned organizations are calling for federal solutions that will empower state and local law enforcement agencies to prevent these tragedies from happening again.”
LGBT organizations represented in the letter include the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, National Center for Lesbian Rights Action Fund and PFLAG National.
The letter calls on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to update federal guidance on racial profiling and for Congress to pass the still-pending End Racial Profiling Act, which would prohibit the use of profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion by law enforcement agencies. “The legislation,” the letter reads, “also provides training and monitoring for law enforcement. By preventing law enforcement from disproportionately targeting ethnic minorities for investigation, interrogation and arrest, we can reduce the disparities that plague our nation’s criminal justice system.”
The legislation and similar bills have been under consideration for more than 10 years, the organizations say.
The letter comes as increased attention and scrutiny grows across the nation over police misconduct, abuse and racial profiling. Police in Greensboro, N.C., are now being called to investigate alleged police misconduct and a recently alleged wrongful arrest by officers there. In Charlotte, an officer was recently indicted for voluntary manslaughter after fatally firing multiple times at an unarmed man who had just emerged from an automobile accident and was in need of assistance.