ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union says FBI documents show a practice of racial profiling directed against certain communities by federal authorities in Georgia and other states.
“The FBI’s own documents confirm our worst fears about how it is using its overly expansive surveillance and racial profiling authority,” Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director, told Efe.
“The FBI has targeted communities of color in Georgia for investigation based not on suspicion of actual wrongdoing, but on the crudest stereotypes about which groups commit different types of crimes,” Shahshahani said
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that FBI “associated” criminal behaviors with certain ethnic groups and are using Census data to locate the places where those people are concentrated.
The ACLU cites the case of several investigations of Hispanic communities in Georgia, Alabama and New Jersey, saying that those probes were launched using the argument that the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 gang, which was formed originally by Salvadoran immigrants, posed a threat there.
The organization said that other communities mentioned in FBI documents include Georgia African Americans known as “Black Separatists,” some pockets of Chinese immigrants in California and certain Arab and Muslim communities in Michigan.
“The use of profiling as a tool to address crime and national security threats is not only unconstitutional, it is ineffective and counterproductive,” Michael German, ACLU senior policy counsel and a former FBI agent, said.
Based on this information, the organization asked Attorney General Eric Holder to halt practices of this kind.
“It is entirely within Attorney General Holder’s power to put an immediate end to these unconstitutional practices by changing the internal Justice Department and FBI rules that permit them to occur,” according to Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project.
In 2003, the Justice Department issued its “Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies,” in which racial and ethnic profiling were prohibited in all contexts except in investigations concerning national security and border matters.
The documents obtained by the ACLU were created as part of the so-called “Mapping the FBI” initiative aimed at exposing possible cases of lack of professional ethics and abuse of authority allegedly committed by the agency. EFE