The Chicago Reporter spoke with Ed Yohnka, the ACLU of Illinois' Director of Communications and Public Policy, for an article about a recent New York Times analysis that found Chicago may be the worst city to "drive while black." The data found that black drivers in Chicago are 5.2 times more likely than white drivers to be subject to a consent search. The ACLU of Illinois has analyzed traffic stop data in Chicago for years and has also continually found a significant racial disparity in the use of consent searches. The traffic stop data highlighting consent searches throughout the state is released on an annual basis under the Illinois Traffic Stop Statistical Study Act of 2003, a measure originally championed by then State Senator Barack Obama.
Even if they don’t provide an explanation, the data are useful in bringing attention to the issue of racial profiling, Yohnka said. Forty-six states don’t collect sufficient data on searches that take place during traffic stops.
“Without the data it would be too easy to just sweep this under the rug and act as though there is no problem,” he said.