Law enforcement is an important protecting body in our society. However, certain groups often feel targeted, terrified, or offended by interactions with police. Heightened by state laws over police questioning, racial profiling has become a major issue that has weakened trust between local citizens and their law enforcement officers.

“Racial profiling is not only a direct affront to American values. It is an ineffective law enforcement tool that wastes police officers’ time and taxpayer dollars and is detrimental to public safety,” said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It diverts police attention away from more effective law enforcement techniques and cultivates resentment in targeted communities and makes people in those communities less likely to cooperate in investigations.”

However, the ACLU is reminding individuals that they to have rights when it comes to being stopped by the police.

On Monday, ACLU released a humorous video in which the New York comedian Elon James White talks about the best ways to respond to police and what rights Americans have during encounters with law enforcement officers. The video is based on the ACLU’s know-your-rights card “What to Do If You’re Stopped by Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI”.  White’s impact on the video is not meant to poke fun at a serious issue, but to help relay the message of constitutional rights to the community at large.

“White brilliantly uses humor to make this vital information accessible in a way few other people could,” Dennis Parker, Director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, said. “But the use of comedy should not shroud the reality that racial profiling remains a serious nationwide problem. We rely on the police to keep us safe and treat us all fairly. But the practice of relying on an individual’s apparent race, ethnicity, national origin or religion rather than on evidence of criminal activity when deciding whom to stop, search or arrest is at odds with our shared American values of fairness and justice, and betrays the fundamental promises of equal justice under the law and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.”

It is important to understand as a citizen or even as a non-citizen, you have certain rights. However, it is also pertinent to understand that in these situations, remaining calm and composed is the best way to get yourself out of a sticky situation.

– You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.
– You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.
– If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.
– You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.
– Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.

– Do stay calm and be polite.
– Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
– Do not lie or give false documents.
– Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
– Do remember the details of the encounter.
– Do file a written complaint or call your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.

Watch the video and be informed!

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