WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Black congressman who claims he was racially profiled by Chicago police last month pushed for legislation Thursday that would ban the practice.
Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., called racial profiling "one of the most sinister issues that exists in American life."
In November, two White officers pulled Davis over and gave him a traffic ticket alleging he swerved over the center line, which Davis denied doing.
"I know that I'm getting up in age a little bit, but I'm not so old that if I weave, I don't know that I'm weaving," Davis, 66, said at a Capitol Hill news conference. The real reason he was pulled over, Davis asserted, was that he and three other Black men were in a car on a deserted street after midnight.
"Ultimately, I was actually ticketed because I was driving while being Black," he said.
Monique Bond, a spokesman for the Chicago police, said the department is still investigating Davis' claims. She said the department stood by a statement issued by Interim Police Superintendent Dana Starks, who said last month that the department does not condone racial profiling, and that the congressman was "was stopped on probable cause and issued a citation for violating a traffic law."
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the End Racial Profiling Act of 2007, joined by Davis and Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn. The bill would ban federal, state and local law enforcement agencies from using racial profiling, such as "relying, to any degree, on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion" during investigatory activities.
It exempts situations when information links a person of a particular group to an identified incident or scheme.
Feingold said he thought Congress would ban the practice after President Bush denounced it in his first State of the Union speech in 2001.
"I think the time is right to take this step," Feingold said. "Racial profiling has no place in America -- before September 11 or after."
Conyers said: "What was true before September 11th is even truer today: Racial profiling is inappropriate and ineffective as a law enforcement tactic."
A dozen senators, all Democrats, co-sponsored the bill, including presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.