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Report: Oregon and the Nation Still Facing Widespread Racism

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 By Dondrea Warner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR, Contact
December 11, 2007

Portland, OR – A leading civil rights organization says in a new report that racial discrimination is not a thing of the past in Oregon or nationally.

The statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, made public in Oregon, shows higher traffic-stop and incarceration rates for people of color in that state.

Attorney Chandra Bhatnagar with the ACLU Human Rights Program came to Oregon specifically to make the announcement. It was issued in response to a report by the United States to the United Nations earlier this year on civil rights. The ACLU calls that report a "whitewash" that ignores the continuing strong effects of racism in America.

"The U.S. holds itself out as a model of freedom and justice and democracy around the world, and in fact uses that to inform some of its foreign policy judgments. We would like it to be applied here at home."

Bhatnagar says racial discrimination is a problem throughout society, affecting policies on federal, state and local levels.

"There are pervasive problems of racial profiling, discrimination against immigrant communities and anti-immigrant ordinances, violence against women of color and the over-incarceration of children of color."

The ACLU statement also cites budget cuts to the Civil Rights Division of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries as a step backward.

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