A Civil Rights group in Iowa is asking the state supreme court to rule minor traffic stops as unconstitutional.
The organizations spearheading this Crusade are the ACLU of Iowa, Iowa-Nebraska Conference of the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa, and 1,000 Kids for Iowa, who collectively believe that minor traffic stops are unconstitutional – and want the Iowa Supreme Court to pass a ruling to reflect it.
The advocacy groups believe that police officers can use minor offenses such as a broken tail light to conduct to conduct racially-motivated and profiled stops, according to NBC 13.
“Sadly, racial profiling isn’t illegal in Iowa,” said Mark Stringer, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa. “We believe it should be. Our efforts with the Iowa Supreme Court to stop pretextual stops by police is one effort that we’re making to try to mitigate racial profiling in the state.”
While ACLU-influenced legislation is currently in the works, Stringer hopes that a little help from the court system will push the issue along until such legislation passes.
“By setting a precedent, if they were to rule in our favor, the brief that we filed, it would set a precedent that would eliminate a portion of the components that lead to racial profiling,” said Stringer. “It wouldn’t deal completely with racial profiling, but it would definitely be a step in the right direction and it’s something that should be done, because pretextual stops, stops that are made on a false pretense, basically, are unconstitutional. They’re unreasonable. They’re unfair, and they’re unjust.”
State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, a Democrat serving Polk County, agrees.
“If somebody’s tail light’s out, there’s nothing wrong with saying your tail light’s out, get it fixed,” said Abdul-Samad. “Why use that and say the tail light’s out, next thing you know, individuals are laying on the ground, individuals cars are being searched, and when you see in the numbers, the disproportionate numbers of individuals that are people of color, you know, that end up with extended charges or being stopped, then that’s a problem.”
However, according to WHOTV, the police find the insinuation to be preposterous at best.
“Part of our job is the enforcement of traffic violations and of safety violations on vehicles,” said Sergeant Ryan Doty of the Des Moines Police Department. “That’s part of our job, and so yes, we are out there enforcing those violations, but not based on race or anything other than the violation.”
It is unknown what the state Supreme Court ruling will be. However, if it does pass, it may set an important precedent for rulings going forward.