The timing is ironic, but, in a matter of weeks, Congressman John Conyers will introduce the End Racial Profiling Act and Senator Russ Feingold will be introducing a similar bill in the Senate. The bills would give a clear definition of what racial profiling is for federal, local as well as immigration law enforcement officers. The NAACP has been pushing for support of a clear definition on racial profiling for local law enforcement that will clearly make it a criminal act. Currently the bills are in draft form. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during the daily briefing:
MR. GIBBS: Well, obviously, we’d have to see what is involved in the legislation. Obviously, as you mentioned, the President — this was a topic that the President worked on, a subject that the President spent some considerable amount of time on in Illinois — criticized, I might add, in Illinois, in some quarters, for not doing enough on this — because keep in mind, April, this was a piece of legislation that collected and disseminated its statistics in order for local communities and law enforcement to use those statistics to make evaluations about what was going on at different traffic stops in different areas throughout the state. But I’d have to see, or somebody here would have to see text of legislation to —
Q All this happened — it just happens to be a coincidence it’s falling around the same time. But this clearly has been an issue. And some have raised concerns that, you know, this administration has dialed back. You know, when the President came out here Friday, he was saying, you know, yes — again, there are sensitivities because of issues with the black community and other minority communities and policing communities. And then you have this issue — he’s talking about the serious issue, he called the Sergeant first, and then he made a call to Gates to bring them here, understanding the seriousness, and then you dial it back saying it’s not going to be as formal. What is going to be discussed? Is he going to try to — I mean, beyond diffusing the issue, there is still a problem — overtones of the problem are still there.
MR. GIBBS: I never suggested — I don’t think the White House suggested that one meeting was going to solve this problem. The President is happy to host this. The President is happy to make this and believes this can be a moment, a teachable moment. I don’t know what will be followed up on after this, because the meeting hasn’t happened. But obviously I don’t think this is an issue that is of concern to just the President. I mean, this is an issue, as you mentioned, of concern to a lot of Americans — not just African Americans, but a lot of Americans.