Romero: Court Cases, Civics and Colbert

With Matt Caprioli

Four-time Colbert Report guest Anthony Romero, the first Hispanic executive director of the ACLU, spoke last week to a mostly friendly audience at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium. Romero’s presentation touched on a few current cases being pursued by the American Civil Liberties Union, such as opposition to Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which is designed to crack down on illegal immigration, but as the ACLU believes, “actively encourages racial profiling.

“The bulk of the director’s time however, was spent making the broader case that the struggle toward equal treatment for racial minorities is far from over.”

Raised in New York City himself, Romero cited the figure that among 500,000 pat-down searches conducted last year by NYPD, 90 percent of them were performed on minorities. As an impact of over policed ghettos, Romero told the audience how poor inner-city youth lose much more than their suburban counterparts when convicted of a minor crime or drug offence. He asked the audience to imagine the severe and long-term consequences of an offence to someone that is dependent on public housing and scholarships to go to college, and loses both when convicted.

When asked what it was like to be on Stephen Colbert’s show, Romero bluntly replied, “It’s terrifying.  The man is crazy smart, it is the scariest interview that I do.”

“Backstage he tells me, ‘I’m going to kick your teeth in.’”

Prior to speaking, the director was introduced by former Anchorage Police Chief and mayoral candidate  Walt Monegan, currently of the Alaska Native Justice Center.

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During the talk, Romero made a couple well-received Palin jokes, and afterwards took several questions
from the audience; including two requests for ACLU partnership on court cases.