Kennedy Calls for Action on Racial Problems (posted March 27, 2000)

In a speech today at Congdon Street Baptist Church, Congressman Patrick Kennedy called for action at the state and federal levels to address "crimes against people of color". Speaking about the recent shooting of Providence Police Officer Cornell Young, Jr., Kennedy said that "the people of Providence want more" than the Governor's statewide commission. Kennedy said he had met last Friday with Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bill Lann Lee and indicated "both men gave me every assurance that there will be an undeniable and thorough Federal review of this senseless shooting." According to Kennedy, Holder indicated that "allegations of a pattern and practice of discrimination and harassment by the police department are seriously being looked at." The Congressman noted that in cases such as this, "Federal agents will be observing and involved in the implementation of such initiatives like 'use of force' policies, reporting requirements on the use of roadblocks, drawing weapons, vehicular pursuits, and reporting requirements."

Kennedy also announced that he is a co-sponsor of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act of 2000 (HR3981) designed to improve law enforcement management and misconduct prosecution. Among other things, the proposed legislation would require federal agencies to collect data concerning the race, ethnicity, and gender of individuals targeted for detention, traffic stops, or warrant-less searches by federal law enforcement agencies in order to make possible the study of so-called racial profiling practices. The Act also would create a national task force on law enforcement oversight, provide for whistleblower protection, study deaths in police custody, and authorize the Attorney General to make grants to state and local governments to develop pilot programs such as civilian review boards and early warning detection programs.