The Alabama House of Representatives just sent a clear message about racial profiling with its rejection of a bill on Thursday night.
The bill would have been a ban on racial profiling, allowing for the collection of data during traffic stops and for law enforcement to develop policies to stop the discriminatory practice. However, the proposal lost on a budget isolation resolution on a 34 to 52 vote, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. Now, the bill can’t advance to the floor for a vote, a move that won’t help stop the profiling of people of color and its harmful effects.
“I guess we are sending a message that ‘Bama is still backwards,” Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, who handled the bill, said after the vote.
Voting was split down partisan lines in the Montgomery house, the Advertiser said.
The legislation didn’t include specific punishments for law enforcement found guilty to racially profile individuals. A provision to withhold funds from departments that neglected to develop policies against profiling was part of the bill’s original version.
The bill had passed the Senate last month and a House committee last week, according to the Alabama Reporter. Senator Rodger Smitherman, who said he had been racially profiled, sponsored the proposal, which many representatives believe is needed.
“What we want to do in Alabama is send a message,” Coleman said. “We’ve seen this stuff nationally. We have to do something to determine who the bad actors are in Alabama.”
Law enforcement can only collect racial data in arrests and citations under current law.
House representatives rejected the racial profiling bill on the heels of approving a proposal for Rosa Parks Day, the Montgomery Advertiser also reported. This bill for the annual celebration of Parks, marked for December 1, got a standing ovation, a startling contrast to the House’s response to the racial profiling bill.
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