A Ban On Racial Profiling Will Be Unveiled By Eric Holder Just Before His Departure
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will announce new racial profiling guidelines Monday for law enforcement officials across the nation to follow. The anticipated announcement from Holder comes after repeated promises to address race and law enforcement officials in the United States — an issue, of course, that was amplified over the last few weeks by the grand jury decisions in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Holder, who resigned from his post at the Department of Justice in September, reportedly pushed for the new guidelines to be finished before his departure.
Under the new profiling guidelines, federal law enforcement agencies will be barred from profiling based on race, ethnicity national origin, gender, religion and sexual orientation. These rules will be applied to the Department of Homeland Security for the very first time, and will also act as guidelines for local law enforcement officials involved with joint task forces.
An unnamed official told ABC News on Monday that Holder and his staff have made racial profiling their top priority since protests over police brutality and injustice sparked in Ferguson, Missouri two weeks ago:
During the last two weeks in particular, it has been the first item on the agenda each day in his morning senior staff meetings. It will be one of the signature accomplishments of his tenure. Holder intends for the Justice Department to be an innovator in aggressively imposing these curbs.
The anonymous official added that these new guidelines will act as a sort of "model" for police officials nationwide. Holder's goal is to prove that "state and local authorities that successful policing does not require profiling," the official told ABC News.
In a statement released prior to Monday's announcement, Holder said:
As Attorney General, I have repeatedly made clear that profiling by law enforcement is not only wrong, it is profoundly misguided and ineffective -- because it wastes precious resources and undermines the public trust. Profiling by law enforcement is not only wrong, it is profoundly misguided and ineffective, because it wastes precious resources and undermines the public trust. Particularly in light of certain recent incidents we’ve seen at the local level – and the widespread concerns about trust in the criminal justice process which so many have raised throughout the nation – it’s imperative that we take every possible action to institute strong and sound policing practices.
The outgoing attorney general has been cementing his legacy as a defender of civil rights in recent months, taking a more vocal stance on racial profiling and excessive use of force, and addressing head-on the strained relations between African-American communities and local law enforcement agencies. Just last Wednesday, Holder announced a federal probe into the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old African-American man who was killed after being placed in a chokehold for selling untaxed cigarettes on a Staten Island sidewalk. The investigation is similar to the separate probes into the death of Michael Brown and the Ferguson Police Department.
According to Holder, the Attorney General's Office of Eastern District of New York and the FBI's civil rights division have been monitoring the local investigation of Garner's death over the last few months. Following the grand jury's decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who placed Garner in a chokehold, the Justice Department decided to act.
In a statement on Wednesday in response to the grand jury decisions of Garner and Brown, and the growing unrest in cities across America, Holder said:
We have all seen the video of Mr. Garner’s arrest. His death, of course, was a tragedy. All lives must be valued. Mr. Garner’s death is one of several recent incidents across the country that have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and protect. This is not a New York issue or a Ferguson issue alone. Those who have protested peacefully across our great nation following the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson have made that clear.
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