Groups Object to State Police Response to Racial Profiling Complaint

Posted: Sep, 28, 2006

More than a dozen local community and civil rights organizations today sharply criticized the recent response of R.I. State Police to allegations that the police engaged in racial profiling and improperly detained and transported to immigration officials fourteen people, all Guatemalans, who were stopped in a van on July 11th after the driver failed to use a turn signal. The groups said the incident demonstrated the urgent need for passage of legislation restricting local police from enforcing federal immigration law.

On September 8th, responding to a formal complaint that the ACLU of Rhode Island had filed on behalf of the driver and ten of the passengers, State Police Superintendent Steven Pare said that the trooper involved in the stop “acted professionally and appropriately.” A written response sent to the ACLU that day also rejected the complaint. At today’s news conference, however, the community groups claimed that the State Police response failed to adequately respond to a number of the allegations or to broader community concerns.

Among the points made today by the groups:

The organizations said that they would actively lobby the General Assembly to pass legislation in 2007 that would restrict the circumstances under which state and local police could seek to enforce immigration law, and to strengthen current state laws against racial profiling. Legislation to that effect has been introduced the past two years, but died in committee.

Among the other organizations joining in the news conference were the Center for Hispanic Policy and Advocacy, the Diocese of Providence, the RI Mexican American Association, the ACLU of Rhode Island, and SEIU Local #615.