Speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta – where 1960s civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached – Eric Holder said he would soon release new set of guidelines to curtail racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies.
“In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement, which will institute rigorous new standards – and robust safeguards – to help end racial profiling, once and for all,” he said. “The new guidance will codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing.”
While many of his statements were well-received by the audience, some people are skeptical of Holder’s commitment to the issue – since it was under the present administration’s watch the “militarized police” emerged in Ferguson.
His speech was also briefly interrupted by several protesters holding signs that read "No Justice. No Peace" and "Eric Holder Do Your Job."
There are but two things Holder needs to bear in mind now that the government has finally decided to make a change in federal guidelines on racial profiling – the first in more than a decade.
First and foremost, while there is a lot of emphasis on how law enforcement officials have committed more mistakes, they must be criticized and corrected in a way that doesn’t make them appear as villains. That would not help in rebuilding the trust between police and the masses and would be counter-productive.
Secondly, the new guidelines should not be limited to Ferguson since the problem of racial profiling is, as we all know too well, not exclusive to the embattled Missouri city. It’s widespread.
"The point we're trying to get across is that Ferguson is everywhere," said Taliba Obuya, a demonstrator.
And last but not least, the action plan should not turn out to be like so many of the unfulfilled promises the current administration has made. People are skeptical now, more than ever, especially since Holder is to leave office next year.