Group alleges profiling
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, August 26, 2007
8/26/07 at 1:43 AM
It will tell the Justice
against Hispanics by law
enforcers, its leader says.
The president of a national advocacy organization said Saturday that
it would formally report to the U.S.
Department of Justice what he described as instances of discrimination against Hispanics by local law
The Rev. Miguel Rivera, the president of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders,
said he had heard of more than 30 examples of area residents being
targeted on suspicion of not having
"That's racial profiling," Rivera
said Saturday before speaking to a crowd at a Tulsa immigration information rally organized by the American Dream Coalition.
In a subsequent press release
posted on his group's Web site, Rivera said the coalition was creating a
"database which includes the name,
badge number and patrol car plate
identification of each local police officer that intervenes with any member of the community as a result of
what is believed to be racial profiling."
The information will be of assistance "as we gather evidence for our
federal reports and case development," the notice said
Rivera said representatives of the
group had already talked with the
Justice Department about investigating the allegations.
Federal officials explained the formal process involved in requesting
Justice Department involvement,
and the group plans to start the required paperwork as soon as
Monday, he said.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Stephanie Jackson said department
policy bars racial profiling
and that the Police Department and the Mayor's Office
take such claims "very seriously."
"We're not going to pull
anybody over based on their
race," she said.
Anybody who feels that
such activity has occurred
can notify the department's
Office of Integrity and Compliance or the city's Human
Rights Department and the
claim will be thoroughly investigated, she said.
Rivera did not limit his criticism to the Police Department. He also said employees of the Tulsa County
Sheriff's Office "need to
learn how to do their job"
when dealing with Hispanics.
Chief Deputy Tim Albin
said sheriff's officials had
met with local Hispanic community leaders, but he has never heard from anyone
from Rivera's coalition.
Albin said sheriff's representatives would be glad to
listen to the group's concerns and look into the
claims. He said the office
would be glad to show the
group statistics and data that
would demonstrate that any
claims of racial profiling are
A senior executive of the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Julie Myers,
was in Tulsa to announce
that 31 sheriff's employees
and seven law enforcement
officers from other jurisdictions would begin a training
program that will enable local officials to enforce immigration laws.
Albin said the participation
of the sheriff's office in the
program demonstrates its
dedication to enforcing immigration laws properly.
Rivera reiterated on Saturday his statement that a lawsuit challenging House Bill
1804 is imminent.
HB 1804, the state's new
sweeping illegal immigration
measure, is to take effect
Nov. 1. Rivera said a lawsuit
could be filed in about two
weeks in Tulsa federal court.
The Web site of the National Coalition of Latino
Clergy and Christian Leaders says it consists of more
than 16,000 churches in
more than 30 states.
Previous DOJ scrutiny
In February 2001, the city
was notified that the Justice
Department’s Civil Rights Division
was scrutinizing the Police
Department under the jurisdiction
of the Violent Crime Control and
Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
That law bars police offi cers from
engaging in a pattern or practice
of conduct “that deprives
persons of rights, privileges,
or immunities secured or
protected by the Constitution or
laws of the United States.”
Even though the Justice
Department never intervened in a
then-ongoing class-action case filed
against the city by black police
officers, plaintiffs’ attorney Louis
Bullock testified in July 2003 that
he believed the DOJ’s interest in
what was happening in Tulsa was
important in reaching a settlement
in that lawsuit.
David Harper 581-8359
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