Address the Epidemic of Racial Profiling and America’s Deep History of Racism

Target: Paul Ryan, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Goal: Hold a hearing to ensure that minority voices are heard when it comes to the widespread issue of racial profiling, and citizens being arrested for “living while black.”

Numerous incidents across the country of minorities, especially black people, having the police called on them for simply going about their daily business have culminated in the hashtag “#livingwhileblack,” and have prompted citizens to call on Congress to address the epidemic of racial profiling. People of color have been forced to face arrest for going shopping for prom, visiting a college, waiting for a friend at Starbucks, and leaving an Airbnb because they were deemed “suspicious” by a white person. This is part of a deeply entrenched history of racism, segregation, and fear in America. We cannot continue to sweep it under the rug.

Experts say it is a symptom of black people being excluded from public spaces, and that these types of 911 calls are not unusual—they are simply in the fore of the public eye now, as they become widely publicized through social media. This means that now is the time to act, as hundreds of people who have had similar experiences wrote in an open letter to Congress. They ask that Congress hold a hearing focused on accountability for false accusers and examining “protocol practices.” The letter says, “a racially-biased 911 call is a costly one, from the financial and time resources pulled from 911 operators to the protocol police officers must then follow. By assuming an excessive response, which risks arrest, incarceration, and death, generations of black lives pay the ultimate cost.” Sign below to demand that black voices be heard and that Congress heed the call of a second hashtag: “#HoldTheHearing.”

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Speaker Ryan,

Highly publicized incidents have been occurring across the country in which the police have been called when people of color, especially black people, were thought to be “suspicious” by a white person for doing innocuous things like napping, moving, or barbecuing. Experts say this is not unusual, but rather part of a long history of “weaponizing” 911 calls in order to exclude black bodies from public spaces. Now, while the race conversation is at the fore of the national consciousness, is the time to address this issue.

Hundreds of people have been put through this type of experience, and as their open letter to Congress points out, “a racially-biased 911 call is a costly one, from the financial and time resources pulled from 911 operators to the protocol police officers must then follow. By assuming an excessive response, which risks arrest, incarceration, and death, generations of black lives pay the ultimate cost.” Additionally, the government has a responsibility to all of the people it serves, regardless of race, to ensure fairness and equality: to silence these voices would be to fall woefully short of that responsibility. Congress must continue this discussion to examine the faults in the system and find ways to hold false accusers accountable. I urge you to ensure that Congress holds a hearing and listens to these stories of racial injustice.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Michael Fleshman

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351 Signatures

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