City Opposes Religious, Racial Profiling

A new city ordinance requires the San Francisco Police Department to follow local and state standards when working with the FBI’s joint Terrorism Task Force, in order to protect Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian members of the community from racial and religious profiling. The ordinance was passed unanimously by Board of Supervisors and signed on May 9 by Mayor Ed Lee. The ordinance also requires public review and comment before SFPD and the FBI’s joint Terrorism Task Force make any new agreements. In addition, SFPD must make annual reports to the Police Commission about its work with the Terrorism Task Force. The ordinance was supported by members of the Coalition for a Safe San Francisco, the Asian Law Caucus, and the Arab Cultural and Community Center. “The Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities have experienced extreme discrimination in the aftermath of September 11,” said Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a community member and founding member of the coalition. “This ordinance is a step toward protecting our community from racial and religious profiling, and requiring transparency and oversight,” he said. Joining Portland, Francisco is the second city in the country to pass a local law to ensure that state and local standards are protected. “The law speaks directly to the community’s concerns about being treated as suspect without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Over the past two years, the coalition has worked tirelessly to turn the tide   against such bias and to pass this law,” said Nasrina Bargzie, staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus, also applauded the new law. “In the coming months the coalition will be working with the community, supporting organizations, and various officials to ensure proper implementation in a sustained effort to challenge discrimination that targets communities in the name of national security,” said Bargzie.
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