Call Renewed for Study of Bias in Traffic Stops

A coalition of black activists, upset by an incident involving Assemblyman Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles), renewed calls Tuesday for national legislation that would study discriminatory traffic stops by police.

Murray was stopped by Beverly Hills police early Wednesday after leaving an election night victory party. He said the stop--which did not produce a citation--was made because he is black.

"He was pulled over because he was a black man in the right place at the wrong time," Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope, said at a news conference. "As African Americans, we can no longer allow this to happen."

Ali said he would ask Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) to lead efforts to revive a bill that would determine the racial breakdown of routine traffic stops made by state and local police.

The bill passed the House in March but was stalled in the Senate after protests by police associations.

"Unwarranted police stops are a great concern to us," said Geraldine Washington, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. "Unfortunately, it takes a high-profile person to prove what we've been saying is true."

According to the Beverly Hills Police Department, Murray was pulled over because his Corvette did not have a front license plate.

The department launched an internal investigation of the incident after the politician complained to the media about the stop, said department spokesman Lt. Edward Kreins.

Kreins said Murray has not filed a formal complaint and has not returned repeated calls made by police investigators.

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