Tell the ACLU of Wisconsin your story
Have you or has someone you know ever been stopped, questioned, detained, or arrested for being the wrong race in the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you faced discrimination in your school, on the street or at your polling place because of your race, ethnicity, gender, ability or sexual orientation?
The public expects fair treatment and equal protection for all Wisconsin residents. Discrimination —actual or perceived—is a serious concern. The ACLU of Wisconsin is working to find legislative solutions to problems with racial profiling, voter disfranchisement and discrimination in schools.
More on racial profiling in Wisconsin
In June, Governor Walker signed the repeal of the racial profiling law that took effect January 1, 2011 which gave Wisconsin law enforcement managers a new tool to identify biased policing during traffic stops. The new law set up a system to collect traffic stop data which would have been analyzed by the Office of Justice Assistance to determine if minority motorists were being stopped or searched disproportionately compared to non-minority motorists.
Without requiring police to track the race of the people they stop, Wisconsin citizens cannot have the hard numbers to see if racial profiling is occurring in cities and towns across the state.
Protect yourself when interacting with police or school officials
Stay calm. Don’t run. Don’t argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. Keep your hands where police can see them. If you are driving a car, stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way and place your hands on the wheel.
Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, you have the right to calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.
You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. If you are the driver of a vehicle, upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently in the car or calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent.
You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect your rights later in court. If you are the driver of a vehicle and an officer or immigration agent asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent.
The ACLU of Wisconsin’s bust card is available on our Resources page..