Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) on Tuesday seized on the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin to promote a bill he wrote that he says would end the practice of racial profiling in law enforcement.
“I have called to put an end to racial profiling,” said Cardin, referring to his End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), S. 1670, which he introduced last year. “[R]acial profiling is bad policy.”
Cardin, in his floor speech on Tuesday, commended the Justice Department for its decision to investigate what he called a “potential hate crime” in Martin’s death. The unarmed, 17-year-old African-American was killed in Florida on Feb. 26 by a self-identified Neighborhood Watchman, George Zimmerman, who said he shot Martin in self-defense.
“I join all Americans in wanting a full and complete investigation into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin to ensure that justice is served,” said Cardin. “The Department of Justice has the authority to investigate the potential hate crime as well as whether this is a pattern and practice of misconduct by local law enforcement.”
ERPA, first introduced by Cardin in the House in 2001, would prohibit the use of racial profiling by law enforcement, enforceable by declaratory or injunctive relief, and would mandate training on racial profiling issues as part of federal law enforcement training. The bill would also make federal funds that go to local law enforcement dependent on their agreement not to engage in racial profiling.