U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is scheduled to testify before a Senate panel Tuesday on racial profiling in America.
The Minneapolis DFLer, the state’s first black congressman, is a cosponsor of the End Racial Profiling Act, which seeks to change police policies and procedures.
The hearing — reportedly the first in the Senate in a decade — comes as the nation debates the death of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida who thought Martin looked suspicious.
A national uproar over a possible racial motivation in the shooting was capped recently by criminal charges being filed against the alleged shooter, George Zimmerman.
Ellison’s office did not mention the Martin case in announcing his participation in the hearing, but it’s hard to imagine it won’t come up. The hearing is meant to highlight “the different forms of racial profiling,” including state immigration laws in Alabama and Arizona that critics say subject Hispanics to heightened scrutiny. Ellison’s office also says the hearing will delve into discriminatory law enforcement against African Americans and anti-terrorism efforts that target American Muslims.
Ellison, a Muslim, last testified as a witness in Congress last year to oppose a House Homeland Security hearing on domestic Islamic radicalization.
Seven DFL state senators said they would not support a bonding bill if there is no funding approved for the Southwest Light-Rail Transit project, a train that would run between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie.