Incensed with what they called police interactions often motivated by race and marred by violence, activists rallied outside the California Capitol on Monday for legislation to better record and share when police officers pull people over or are involved in deaths.
Multiple police shootings of unarmed African-American have led both advocates and lawmakers to call for legislation illuminating when police officers use lethal force and addressing the intersection of race and policing. One African-American speaker from San Diego said he had been stopped by police officers more than 50 times. He later faced gang conspiracy charges, ultimately tossed, based on evidence like social media posts.
“I hear people say we don’t have a racial profiling issue and I hear them say that the reason why police use of force (data) doesn’t need to be collected is because it’s valid,” said Aaron Harvey, but “we do have a problem.”
WATCH: Harvey and others urge California to pass racial profiling legislation
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Monday’s rally preceded the American Civil Liberties Union’s Sacramento lobby day and spotlighted two bills sponsored by the ACLU and carried by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego.
Assembly Bill 619 would require the attorney general’s office to send the Legislature a report, and publish it publicly, on how many people die in police custody. Assembly Bill 953 seeks to shine a light on racial profiling by establishing a Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board and requiring local police departments to report information on traffic and pedestrian stops to the California attorney general’s office.
“We need the right information and we need the right tools to end racial profiling today,” said Christine Sun, the ACLU of Northern California’s associate director.
Law enforcement groups warned that AB 953 would saddle police officers with reams of paperwork – John Lovell, a lobbyist for various law enforcement organizations, said it “changes cops into clerks” – at the expense of public safety.
“Our concern stems from the amount of time that an officer would need to take to require the data collection requirement and that you’re taking an officer off the street to complete the requirement,” said Lauren Michaels, a spokeswoman for the California Police Chiefs Association, which has not taken a formal position but has expressed skepticism to Weber’s office.
Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.