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Report on Racial Profiling Questioned

Report on Racial Profiling Questioned

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- In what it claimed was a "state-by-state analysis," Amnesty International estimated that 121,033 Utahns have been victims of racial profiling -- and that 57,128 of them were white.

However, Amnesty had no actual state figures and instead made extrapolations from national-level data.

"At face value, it seems like a poorly conducted study," said Gary Levy, director of institutional analysis at the University of Utah. "The finding might be true, but it's not based on good methodology."

"For sure, it (racial profiling) happens, we know that from talking to people and taking complaints filed here," said Dani Eyer, director of the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "But right now, it's all anecdotal, not a statistical analysis."

Eyer said that before 9-11, "it was pretty much a given that racial profiling was a bad thing," but after the terror attacks, people became more afraid and once again began to embrace racial profiling.

Eyer said hundreds of Utahns of Arab descent were questioned by the FBI in 2001 and 2002 even though the bureau's agents had no reason to suspect them of criminal wrongdoing.

Amnesty did not have numbers for Arabs in its report.

Amnesty regional director Erin Callahan said that was due to data collection methods used by the U.S. Census Bureau and the two national surveys used by the group.

Participants in those surveys were asked if they felt they had ever been the victim of racial profiling.

One of the studies, from which Amnesty derived its statistics on Asian profiling, involved just 229 participants nationwide.

Based on that survey, the organization estimated that 4,013 Asians in Utah have been victims of racial profiling.

Callahan defended the extrapolations, saying the result was "an estimate, not an actual count."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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