USW Urges Federal Action to Prevent Racial Profiling

Contact: Wayne Ranick (412) 562-2444, wranick@usw.org

(Pittsburgh) -- The United Steelworkers (USW) said today that ongoing tragedies in Ferguson, Missouri, demonstrates the immediate need for updated federal guidance and legislation to stop discriminatory law enforcement profiling.

“Racially biased law enforcement has no place anywhere in our country,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “While we applaud the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for opening an investigation into this shooting and its aftermath, federal action is needed now to halt state and local law enforcement in the future from the practice of profiling based on race, religion, ethnicity and national origin.”

The USW is encouraging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to immediately update the 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies without further delay. Major reforms are needed to correct the huge gaps in protection and carve-outs for ineffective policing that can lead to unnecessary shootings and military-style responses to local demonstrations. This would include applying the Guidance to state and local law enforcement who work in partnership with the federal government or receive federal funding.

The USW also calls on Congress to finally pass the End Racial Profiling Act, which would provide training and monitoring for law enforcement, while prohibiting the use of profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.

“These changes have been discussed for more than a decade now,” said Emil Ramirez, USW District 11 Director, which covers the state of Missouri. “We need action now to prevent tragedies like those unfolding in Ferguson from happening again. We can’t wait any longer to provide the DOJ and local law enforcement agencies with the tools necessary to eliminate ever-present threats to basic constitutional rights and effective law enforcement.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.  For more information: http://www.usw.org/.

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