Connect with us

Missouri Bill To Ban Racial Profiling Draws Attention For Including Gays

Published

on

Legislation Inspired By Michael Brown’s Murder Covers Race, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

Two African-American Democrats in Missouri, ground zero for the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the wake of Michael Brown’s 2014 murder at the hands of Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson, have introduced a bill that would ban police profiling of racial and other minorities, including gays. 

The bill would require Missouri law enforcement officers to report the “perceived race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, English language proficiency or national origin” of motorists and pedestrians who are stopped by police. Agencies would then report the data to the state, and if it were to show a pattern of police profiling, they could be subject to increased officer training requirements, funding cuts and even de-certification. 

In addition to anecdotal evidence such as Brown’s shooting, existing data in Missouri shows that a ban on racial profiling by police is sorely needed. Missouri already requires law enforcement officers to report the ethnicity of those who are stopped, and in 2014, blacks were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over than whites, according to The St. Louis Post Dispatch. 

“Blacks and Hispanics also were more likely to be searched as a result of those stops — even though white drivers were more likely to be in possession of drugs, weapons or other illegal contraband,” the newspaper reports. 

Unfortunately, a column in the Post Dispatch misrepresents the new bill, known as the Fair and Impartial Policing Act, by referring to it in a headline as a “driving while gay” measure and questioning the rationale of requiring police to record characteristics that aren’t readily discernible. Not surprisingly, commenters expressed outrage about the proposal, even calling one of the bill’s authors, state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a “communist.” 

To be clear, though, the bill would prohibit law enforcement officers from asking drivers, passengers and pedestrians for anything other than ID, motor vehicle registration, name and address. In addition, the identities of those who are stopped and the officers who stopped them would remain private.

Moreover, numerous studies have shown that LGBT people, just like other minorities, routinely are victims of police profiling — especially transgender and gender-nonconforming people, queer people of color, and homeless youth.

In a 2015 paper titled “Discrimination and Harassment by Law Enforcement Officers in the LGBT Community,” researchers at UCLA’s Williams Institute wrote:

“A 2014 report on a national survey of 2,376 LGBT people and people living with HIV found that 73% of respondents had face-to-face contact with the police in the past five years. Of those respondents, 21% reported encountering hostile attitudes from officers, 14% reported verbal assault by the police, 3% reported sexual harassment and 2% reported physical assault at the hands of law enforcement officers.” 

In December 2014, in response to controversies nationwide over fatal police shootings, the U.S. Department of Justice released guidance prohibiting federal law enforcement officers from profiling based on race and other factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity. At the time, the National Center for Transgender Equality said the DOJ guidance didn’t go far enough because it exempted TSA and border security agents, as well as certain anti-terror investigators, in addition to state and local law enforcement officers:

“At a time when many communities are reeling from violence at the hands of police misconduct, our nation’s commitment to equality must be firm and without exception,” NCET Executive Director Mara Keisling said. “Whether ‘driving while Black,’ ‘flying while Muslim,’ ‘walking while Latino,’ or ‘walking while trans,’ it is always and everywhere wrong.” 

(Notably, the Missouri bill includes sexual orientation and gender, but not “gender identity,” in its definition of “biased policing.” However, it includes “gender identity” in describing a violation of the statute.)

In March 2015, President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing released recommendations mostly focusing on racial profiling, but also addressing LGBT issues. The recommendations included legislation similar to the new Missouri bill, as well as establishing search and seizure procedures “that cease using the possession of condoms as the sole evidence of intent to engage in prostitution-related offenses.” 

Also last year, Democratic Congressmen Ben Cardin and John Conyers reintroduced the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), which also includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill currently has only 99 co-sponsors:

“From Stonewall to stop-and-frisk, LGBTQ people … have long been targets of profiling and other forms of discriminatory policing,” Lambda Legal wrote in support of the bill. “The consequences have ranged from deportation to death, arrest to assault, homophobic harassment to humiliation.” 

Maryland — site of widespread protests over the 2015 death of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police — recently became the first state to enact a ban on police profiling of minorities, including LGBT people, and it seems likely that other progressive states will soon follow suit.

Let’s just hope debates about these critical measures aren’t reduced to “driving while gay.”

 

This article has been updated. 

Image by N!(K — loveforphotography – via Flickr and a CC license

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

Questions Swirl About Uvalde Police as Photos, Videos, Witness Accounts Appear to Tell Story of Inaction During Massacre

Published

on

Barely days after 19 elementary school children and two teachers were shot to death by an 18-year old with two AR-15 style assault rifles, questions are swirling about the actions of local law enforcement, supported by video and photos apparently taken by those who were outside Robb Elementary School during the massacre. NCRM has not confirmed the authenticity of the photos or videos posted to social media.

“Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman’s rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, witnesses said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team,” the Associated Press reports.

“Go in there! Go in there!” nearby women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who saw the scene from outside his house, across the street from Robb Elementary School in the close-knit town of Uvalde. Carranza said the officers did not go in.

Multiple reports state police waited outside for those 40 minutes, or more, before taking action to neutralize the shooter. During that time, some have noted, it’s possible children who had been shot died of their wounds rather than receiving medical attention.

CNN’s Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto:

Veteran journalist Soledad O’Brien:

Indeed, additional reports appear to show not only did police not storm the school, for reasons yet unknown, they appear to have prevented desperate parents from doing anything to help save their children, even using force, including a taser, to stop them. And in one case (below,) from the account of one of the children who survived published by CBS affiliate KENS5, police action may have led to the death of one of the students.

VICE News reports “Texas law enforcement officials are being strangely opaque about what actually happened during the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.”

“When asked how much time passed between the gunman arriving at the school and the gunman being killed, Texas’ Director of Public Safety Steve McCraw offered an indefinite response.”

“Forty minutes, an hour,” he said. “But I don’t want to give you a particular timeline.”

VICE adds that “officers ‘were responsible’ for containing the gunman in a classroom, McCraw said. (Spokespersons for the Texas Department of Public Safety had repeatedly told news outlets earlier that the suspect barricaded himself into the classroom and immediately started shooting.)”

NBC News correspondent covering national security and intelligence Ken Dilanian:

Matt Novak, a senior writer at the tech site Gizmodo, posted these tweets:

This one is tragic:

Sawyer Hackett, a senior advisor to Julián Castro, the former Obama HUD Secretary and former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, reposted these videos and offers some commentary:

Even this editor from the right wing website Daily Caller says “it appears the police did everything wrong once the shooter was in the room.”

 

 

Continue Reading

News

‘I Will Find Out’: Jimmy Kimmel Questions Why Texas TV Station Cut Away From His Monologue on School Shooting

Published

on

A Dallas/Fort Worth television station cut away from Jimmy Kimmel’semotional monologue about the Robb Elementary school massacre that left 19 children and two adults dead.

ABC affiliate WFAA-TV interrupted the six-minute, comedy-free monologue with a string of commercials, starting with an in-house news spot, before airing the end of Kimmel’s opener, which he used for a three-minute ad for the gun violence prevention organization Everytown.org, reported the Star-Telegram.

“To my friends in Dallas who are asking: I do not know whether our @ABCNetwork affiliate @wfaa cut away from my monologue tonight intentionally or inadvertently but I will find out,” Kimmel tweeted. “In the meantime, here’s what you didn’t get to see.”

You can watch the clip below or at this link.

A source at the TV station said the commercials were aired and part of the monologue was cut because the 10 p.m. newscast ran long, and an interview with “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane was also chopped up into segments that aired between commercial breaks.

READ MORE: NYT’s Maggie Haberman reacts to ‘stunning’ testimony that Trump approved of ‘Hang Mike Pence’ chants

Kimmel called out elected officials, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX), and urged them to take action to prevent another mass shooting.

“Once again we grieve for the little boys and girls,” Kimmel said, fighting back tears. “Whose lives have been ended and whose families have been destroyed. While our leaders on the right, the Americans in Congress and at Fox News and these other outlets warn us not to politicize this. They immediately criticize our president for even speaking about doing something to stop it, because they don’t want to speak about it because they know what they’ve done and they know what they haven’t done, and they know it’s indefensible, so they’d rather sweep this under the rug.”

“The reason they call them common-sense gun laws is because that’s what they are,” he added. “Eighty-nine percent of Americans want background checks before a gun can be purchased, which is the very least we can do.”

 

Continue Reading

News

Watch: Texas Republican Opposes Any New Gun Legislation Because We’re Going to ‘Convict’ and ‘Punish’ the Shooters

Published

on

A Texas Republican state lawmaker said just one day after 19 elementary school students were shot and killed he opposes any new gun legislation for two reasons: the U.S. Constitution, and under existing laws prosecutors should just “convict” the shooters.

“What we want to know is what your solution is,” CNN host Alisyn Camerota told Rep. James White, who happens to be a former school teacher.

“We’ve all seen how quickly and creatively Texas—your local legislature—can act when it wants to, say, protect the unborn embryo,” Camerota added, referring to Texas’ vigilante abortion ban, as The Daily Beast reported. “Why not act with that alacrity to protect living, breathing 10-year-olds in this school behind me?”

“We have this thing called the Constitution,” White replied, even though the Texas abortion ban, under current law, violates at least the spirit of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and many other Republicans, and like the NRA, White then defended his desire to pass no legislation to help reduce gun violence by declaring the problem is actually one of mental health.

He said, “these young men, for some reason, they have some very disturbed emotional state.”

There is no evidence, according to Gov. Abbott, that this shooter had any documented mental health issues.

White then decided to propose utilizing existing law to reduce gun violence.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “we’re going to look at the people who do these acts, we’re going to convict them, and we’re going to punish them.”

Appearing flabbergasted, Camerota replied, “You can’t convict him, sir.”

“Sir you can’t convict him. He was killed. He was killed, along with 19 children in the school behind me.”

Watch:

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.