In response to the George Zimmerman verdict, today President Obama delivered remarks on race and racial profiling. In the speech he called on police forces to address the problem of racial profiling. From Obama (via Washington Post):
Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department — governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.
You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.
And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way, that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and in turn be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously law enforcement’s got a very tough job.
So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And — and let’s figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training.
It is shocking that the same man who delivered this speech just days earlier called New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly one of the best law enforcement professionals there is and is considering appointing him to head the Department of Homeland Security.
There is probably no single individual in America more personally responsible for a systematic unjustifiable racial profiling system than Ray Kelly. Kelly dramatically escalated the racist and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policy in New York City. According to the NYCLU it was responsible for over half a million stops last year of which 87 percent were Black or Hispanic. Among those stops, 90 percent were innocent. In addition, Kelly is responsible for a widespread spying program on Muslims. Ray Kelly is the biggest promoter and defender of racial profiling tactics.
The intellectual disconnect between these two statements issued days apart is almost unfathomable. Ray Kelly is the poster child for the problems of racial profiling in this country and Obama is considering rewarding him with a cabinet level appointment.
Photo by Red Carlisle under Creative Commons license