Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security, and Human Rights in the United States

Report
October 1, 2004

Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security, and Human Rights in the United States

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Racial profiling is a deep-rooted problem in the United States. Despite evidence that it is ineffective and often makes us less safe, many law enforcement officials continue to rely on this blunt race-based tactic in hopes of apprehending more offenders. This type of abuse has continued and gotten worse since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

According to the most recent opinion polls and census data, there are as many racial profiling victims in the United States as there are people in Canada. At least 32 million (one out of nine) people in the United States report having been racially profiled. Additionally, on any day of the week, at least 87 million (almost one in three) people in this country are at high risk of being victimized in this way because they belong to a racial, ethnic, or religious group whose members are commonly targeted by police for unlawful stops and searches.

Racial profiling is a human rights violation that can affect Americans in virtually every sphere of their daily lives and often has an impact that goes far beyond the initial incident. As the testimonies summarized in this report reveal, this seemingly ubiquitous human rights violation leaves its victims feeling humiliated, depressed, helpless, and angry. Furthermore, racial profiling reinforces residential segregation, creates fear and mistrust, and engenders reluctance in reporting crimes and cooperating with police officers. In these times of domestic insecurity, our nation simply cannot afford to tolerate practices and policies that build walls between individuals or communities and those who are charged with the duty of protecting all of us.