We respectfully request that the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice investigate the statistically high rates of police stop and search incidents involving Black drivers and passengers, to identify and prosecute cases in which the civil rights of these drivers and passengers are being violated.
Law-abiding Black professionals, including retired police officers and nationally recognized sports figures caring for family members in times of emergency, have been taunted, harassed and humiliated. Pregnant Black women who were rushing to the hospital have been stopped and denied medical care, leading to miscarriage, with the offending police officers asking, "How is that my problem?"
Each of these cases is but one example of the menace that Black motorists and passengers face throughout the United States, simply for "Driving While Black" (DWB).
According to a 2007 US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics press release:
- The most common reason for police contact in 2002 and 2005 was a traffic stop, accounting for about 40 percent of all contacts.
- Blacks were almost three times as likely as whites to report that excessive force was used against them in contacts with law enforcement, while Latinos reported excessive force twice as often as whites.
- Police searched three times as many Blacks and Hispanic drivers as white drivers.
We urge that the Justice Department condition financial support for state and local police activities upon findings that such police organizations vigorously screen, discipline and terminate police officials whose color-aroused and abusive behaviors, and tolerance of such behaviors, make all police activity seem suspect in minority communities.
We further urge that police in every American jurisdiction make a sincere and sustained effort to distinguish between law abiding Americans and others, rather than treating all Black Americans as if we were guilty and inherently insusceptible of being proved innocent.
To underscore our determination that law-abiding Black drivers and passengers be perceived and treated as such, we hereby announce our intention to scrupulously observe each and every traffic law intended for the protection of the public, in every case. We are determined to willingly accept as a group -- with patience, prayer and diligent meditation -- any traffic delays that may result from our determination to be perceived and treated as models of perfect traffic-law obedience.
To prove our commitment to traffic safety as well as equal justice under the laws, we will drive at the lowest permissible speeds on the streets and highways where we live, taking each and every precaution that the police demand of us, even if it causes traffic jams as far as the eye can see, and continuing without relent until our nation realizes that it is better to end color-aroused police traffic stop persecution right now, rather than to live with perpetual color-aroused traffic jams forever and ever more.
We urge all Americans to be patient with us as we demonstrate, through rigorously and meticulously responsible driving behavior, that our greatest priority when driving, in addition to traffic safety, is that we be treated with the respect and consideration that all human beings deserve, regardless of how long it takes us to get there.