Louisville Peace organization discusses policies on racial profiling

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Margo Morton

ACLU defense attorney Bill Sharp begins the meeting by explaining the complexities of Kentucky’s racial profiling laws. Photo by Spencer Kincaid.

The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression held their monthly legal series at Greater Good Hope Baptist Church on Aug. 21. Guest speaker American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU) attorney Bill Sharp spoke on Know Your Rights information on racial profiling. The Alliance has meetings every fourth Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

Sharp defined racial profiling as “police officer action taken solely on account of race.” While there is a law prohibiting racial profiling in Kentucky, he explained that it may not always help in a trial.

“It’s extremely difficult to prove racial profiling has taken place,” Sharp said. “It is almost impossible to rule out reasons why people are treated differently.”

Members of the audience questioned what they could do to change how blacks are disproportionately penalized by police.

“A bill does not solve the problem,” Sharp said. “We need greater accountability for conduct of police officers. Demanding that officers be equipped with body cameras would be a good first step.”

Sharp continued by explaining why the audience should still have faith in the government.

“I would not be doing the work that I do if I did not have a degree of optimism,” Sharp said. “As long as I think I can help, I think I have an obligation to try. I don’t pretend to have the answer. The answer is everybody.”

Kathleen Parks is the President of Louisville’s National Action Network Chapter and a Chairperson of the Alliance. In light of the recent events in Ferguson, MO, she concluded the meeting with a reminder.

“This is a national epidemic. It’s bigger than your own backyard,” Parks said.

Kathleen Parks,
Kathleen Parks addresses Attorney Bill Sharp. Photo by Spencer Kincaid.

Parks let members of the audience state their own comments, questions and concerns closer to the end of the meeting. Approximately forty people attended the event.

“We cannot depend on the law, it will not help us very much,” one man sitting in the front pew said at the meeting. “That doesn’t mean that we are helpless. Your ancestors were slaves, but they did not stay slaves because they refused to stay slaves.” Photo by Spencer Kincaid.

The organization Raising Awareness and Solidarity Riders is holding a “Stop the Violence” March on Aug. 24. Information can be found on the website.