The NAACP sent a strongly worded letter to the State of Florida, urging legislators there to oppose bills – HB 7089 and SB 2040, which the NAACP believes are racially and ethnically discriminatory. These bills “would require law enforcement officials in Florida to engage in racial profiling – an insidious practice all too familiar to racial and ethnic minorities in America today,” the NAACP stated in its letter before adding, “[it] is not only immoral, un-American and unconstitutional, but it is also counterproductive law enforcement as well. The government should be preventing police from investigating and detaining people based on color and accent, not mandating it.”
By joining with other organizations, including among others, the National Council of La Raza, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the League of United Latin American Citizens, the NAACP keeps alive the spirit of past civil rights leaders.
In his famous letter written while a prisoner in a Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this truism: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Those words are timeless–as true today as they were 50 years ago or 70 years ago. As S. Floyd Mori, National Executive Director and CEO of the Japanese American Citizens’ League reminded the Florida law makers, in 1941 120,000 Americans were racially profiled and sent to detention centers without due process. Mr. Mori added, “This has been recognized as an egregious mistake, and it resulted in an apology from President George Bush. One of the main objectives of the legislation that recognized this error was to ensure that the nation learn from the mistake.”
If fairness and justice isn’t enough to sway legislators, the NAACP’s letter also presents a pragmatic argument for the unreasonableness and wastefulness of such legislation. “This legislation bears a striking resemblance to Arizona’s infamous anti-immigration law,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “As in Arizona, the bill encourages discrimination, hinders effective police work, and is fiscally irresponsible.”
Mr. Jealous and the NAACP make an argument that is hopefully tough to beat.