San Francisco, Aug. 7, 2003 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) joined other civil rights organizations today in strongly opposing Proposition 54, the Racial Privacy Initiative, scheduled for the October 7, 2003, ballot. ADL supports a society where there is equal opportunity for all and works to combat hatred, bigotry, prejudice and discrimination. If passed, Proposition 54 would prohibit public agencies, schools and employers from maintaining records on race or ethnic origin, and will make it difficult for both the public and watchdog agencies to confirm that these public actors are complying with anti-discrimination laws.
"Proposition 54 will not move California forward but will carry us backward and impede law enforcement, state agencies, and universities from doing their jobs," said Jonathan Bernstein, Director of ADL's Central Pacific Regional Office. "This damaging initiative will reverse the tremendous progress the state has made in tracking hate crimes and providing equal opportunities for all Californians."
ADL is especially concerned about how this initiative will affect law enforcement's ability to maintain or collect racial, ethnic or national origin information to track hate crimes or acts of racial profiling.
"Hate crimes have enhanced penalties due to the heinous nature of these crimes and their destructive impact on communities, and continue to be a serious problem in California and throughout the country," said Bernstein. "We need to arm state and local agencies with all the resources possible to put a stop to these crimes, not make it more difficult for them to do their job. Limitations on the ability of state and local authorities to collect, track and act upon relevant, important information will deal a serious blow to their efforts."
ADL is equally concerned about the damage that Proposition 54 may impose on the accurate collection of data related to racial profiling. Racial profiling, or the targeting of motorists based on their race, is a national problem. Law enforcement may no longer be able to collect data during traffic stops to determine whether persons of certain ethnic or racial groups are stopped more often than other groups. "Proposition 54 will roll back the clock on the strides we have made in this state to identify and combat unlawful racial profiling," said Bernstein.