D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) marked the first anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin today by reintroducing legislation to re-establish a federal grant program intended to reduce racial profiling.
Norton’s bill permits states to apply for grants to develop racial profiling laws, to collect and maintain data on traffic stops, to fashion programs to reduce racial profiling, and to train law enforcement officers.
The program was included in the 2005 surface transportation law but expired in 2009. Norton, a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said she’ll once again try to get the language folded into the transportation bill.
“It’s a bill that would give grants to local jurisdictions in order to help them develop laws and programs that can combat racial profiling. I have tried in the past to get a national law against racial profiling but have been unable to do that, so this is my fallback,” she told PJM last year after a community forum to discuss Martin’s death.
“And I don’t see how anybody could be against this,” she added. “You don’t have to take the grant, you don’t have to participate, but if you want help, and some cities need help, they don’t know what to do, then you can get help through this grant funding.”
Today, Norton stressed that states would not be required to participate and would not be penalized if they don’t.
“The Trayvon Martin tragedy did not involve a law enforcement officer, but his death reminded the country that racial profiling discrimination remains largely unaddressed,” she said. “The responsibility for eliminating racial profiling should begin with the federal government, especially when racial profiling happens on federally funded roads.”