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Racial Profiling of African, Hispanic (Latino), and Asian Americans
What is racial profiling?

The most common example of police racial profiling is "DWB", otherwise known as "driving while black".  This refers to the practice of police targeting African Americans for traffic stops because they believe that African Americans are more likely to be engaged in criminal activity. 

While racial profiling is illegal, a 1996 Supreme Court decision allows police to stop motorists and search their vehicles if they believe trafficking illegal drugs or weapons.  More traffic stops leads to more arrests, which further skews the racial profiling statistics against African Americans.   Studies have shown that African Americans are far more likely to be stopped and searched.  Are African Americans really committing more crimes or are they just caught more often because the police target them?  This is a vicious cycle that even the strictest law enforcement advocates would admit is patently unfair.

What can you do if you are stopped?  Civil rights attorneys advise the following:

  1. Know your rights:  you are not required to give permission to police officer to search your car.  You can deny the request - but do so politely.

  2. Don't argue:  the police may try to intimidate you.  Do not be confrontational and provoke an argument.

  3. Get the names of the officers:  be sure to get their badge numbers, squad car number, license plate number, and make a note of the location and time of day.

  4. File a complaint if you feel you have been mis-treated:  contact the ACLU or other civil rights organizations for legal advice.

Racial Profiling News

Click here for the latest Racial Profiling news


Racial Profiling statistics, studies and analysis

Contacts between Police and the Public: Findings from the 2005 National Survey (U.S. Dept. of Justice)

A Resource Guide on Racial Profiling Data Collection Systems (U.S. Dept. of Justice - November 2000)

Traffic Stop Data Collection Policies for State Police, 2004 (U.S. Dept of Justice)

Racial Profiling Studies in Law Enforcement (Minnesota House of Representatives - 2000)

Allegations of Racial Profiling (State of New Jersey - 1999)


End Racial Profiling Act of 2007 (S.2481 introduced 12/17/07)

End Racial Profiling Act of 2007 (H.R. 4611 introduced 12/17/07)

Victim's rights organizations



National Urban League

U.S. State Department - International Information Programs

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