Palo Alto City Council Condemns Racial Profiling

The Palo Alto City Council approved a resolution tonight that condemns racial profiling in response to a controversy created by comments Police Chief Lynne Johnson made at a recent public meeting.

"The City Council has indicated a desire to make it very clear to the public that we are opposed to racial profiling in any way, shape or form," said Palo Alto Mayor Larry Klein.

Johnson made the comments at an Oct. 30 community meeting as she addressed a string of robberies in which suspects were described as black.

The police chief said she asked officers for "consensual contact" with black men seen in locations where robberies have occurred.

The comments resulted in an uproar from residents, church leaders and Stanford University students.

Klein said 40 to 50 people showed up to the City Council meeting last Monday to address the issue. About 10 attendees, mostly Stanford University students, spoke during the public comment period, he said.

On Sunday, protesters blocked off University Avenue in front of City Hall in Palo Alto to protest Johnson's comments.

Palo Alto police Agent Dan Ryan said the crowd of between 150 and 200 protesters marched about 3 miles from East Palo Alto to the he addressed the crowd to let them know they were welcome and that he disagrees with the Palo Alto City Hall.

Klein said the protest was peaceful and that police chief's comments.

Johnson has made two public apologies since the Oct. 30 meeting, first in a public letter in which she said her statements were "misconstrued" and again at a City Council meeting.

Johnson said at last Monday's council meeting she would develop a multi-faceted plan to expand her outreach efforts to various city communities with the goal of making everyone feel safe and welcome in the city, Ryan said.

The police chief is scheduled to present the plan at the Nov. 17 City Council meeting.

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