Chicago Civil Rights Activists Urge �Middle Eastern� Category for Police Tracking

November 18, 2005

Source: Chicago Tribune,1,6230592.story

On November 18, 2005 the Chicago Tribune reported, "Citing examples of racial profiling, Muslim and civil rights activists told a legislative committee Thursday that police in Illinois should be required to add a category of 'Middle Eastern' to those they use to track who is stopped by officers.

That suggestion was part of legislation drafted by the American Civil Liberties Union to help monitor police behavior toward people of Middle Eastern descent as well as other minorities. The legislation, not yet introduced in the General Assembly, would amend a 2003 statute that outlines racial data police officers should collect during traffic stops.

Many police agencies in Illinois log the race of drivers they pull over, but 'Middle Eastern' is not among the listed ethnicities. People of Middle Eastern descent are often logged as Caucasian, activists said, so racial profiling of the community remains hidden.

'How can we fix a problem if we don't have a way to monitor it?' said Christina Abraham, civil rights coordinator at the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, testifying before the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee... Police agencies did not comment on the proposed legislation, but Col. Kenneth Bouche of the Illinois State Police told the committee his department considered collection of racial data during traffic stops a valuable tool to monitor profiling."