The Department of Justice announced Monday it will begin to collect data from arrests, searches, and traffic stops in five major cities to determine if racial discrimination plays a role in law enforcement efforts.
Attorney General Eric Holder implemented the effort after President Barack Obama called for improved relations between young black and Latino men and police with the launch of the program, “My Brother’s Keeper.”
Obama unveiled the program after Florida neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder after he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who attacked him during a February 2013 night. Zimmerman was Hispanic, while Martin was African American — adding a deeply personal element to the case for Obama, who declared that if he had a son, “he would look like Trayvon” at a March 2013 news conference.
The White House’s program also bears the same name as a Chicago scam called “We Are Our Brother’s Keepers” run by former police chief Regina Evans, which misappropriated $500,000 in state funds, according to The Southtown Star. Jeri Wright, the daughter of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s fiery Chicago pastor, received $16,000.
The DOJ will award $4.75 million in federal grants to organizations working with law enforcement agencies to analyze the data and find ways to reduce racial biases they find towards young, male minorities.
Reuters reports that Justice Department statistics from 2012 show Latino men are 2.5 times likely, and African Americans six times more likely, to face jail than white males.
African Americans committed 52.9 percent of all homicides and 59.9 percent of felony murders from 1980 to 2008, according to a study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics that tracked crime rates. White Americans in turn committed 45.3 percent of all homicides during that time period and 38.4 percent of all felony murders. Ninety-three percent of black victims of homicide were killed by other blacks.
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