Chief Moose on Racial Profiling

Article excerpt

Thousands of media professionals attended the third annual "Unity: Journalists of Color Conference" Aug. 4 to 8 in Washington, DC's new convention center. A press conference held by the American Civil Liberties Union featured Charles Moose, the former police chief of Montgomery County, MD, who examined the growing abuses surrounding racial profiling. During the sniper attacks two years ago in the suburbs of Washington, Chief Moose said, he refused to engage in racial profiling and other tactics in his search for the killers, despite outside pressure.

Racial profiling is the reliance by law enforcement on race, ethnicity, national origin or religion in deciding whom to target for criminal investigation. After Sept. 11, Chief Moose said, Muslims and Arab Americans have joined African-Americans as victims of this wrongful, hurtful practice. They, too, are stopped on the basis of their names, dress, religion, or skin color, instead of as the result of any suspicious behavior.

Moose recalled the pilot who refused to let an Arab-American secret Service agent fly to Texas to join President Bush's security detail at his ranch. An out-of-uniform African-American state trooper in Pennsylvania was pulled over for speeding while driving with his son. A court found him not guilty. Both cases are racial profiling.

"It's happened to me," Moose said, "and it's painful. It's more than traffic stops. It's also being singled out in a store when you're shopping. You are followed....You can't classify a person as a suspect simply because of the color of their skin."

Moose then described the effects of racial profiling on his soul and his mind. "I love this country," he said. "I stayed out of jail, I got a good job, a doctorate degree and leadership positions. Yet still this happens to me because of the color of my skin. …