As millions of Americans take to the streets to peacefully demand an end to racially-motivated police brutality and systemic racism, Congressional leaders have introduced police reform legislation based largely on the recommendations of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations.
“The weeks since George Floyd’s senseless killing at the hands of police have made plain there is only one way for police to regain the trust of the communities they are sworn to protect,” National Urban League President Marc H. Morial said. “Without comprehensive reform, we are doomed to repeat the nightmarish cycle in which we find ourselves, with police responding with brutality to demonstrations against police brutality.”
Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, along with Senate Judiciary Committee members Kamala D. Harris and Cory Booker, have introduced the Justice in Policing Act in their respective chambers.
Nearly 1,300 Black men and women have been fatally shot by police since the National Urban League issued its plan in 2014, in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson.
At that time, Morial said, “Millions of Americans have now taken to the streets and to social media not because the problems that have caused the outrage just began yesterday, but because sometimes difficult circumstances present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring about historic change.”
“It has taken more than five years of committed advocacy and activism to bring this change about,” he said today. “But George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, along with the shooting of Breonna Taylor during the botched execution of a no-knock warrant in Louisville, and the vigilante execution of Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia, have pushed the nation to the tipping point.”
The bill introduced today includes measures the National Urban League originally proposed including the mandated use of body and dashboard cameras, the establishment of a national accreditation system tied to eligibility for federal funds, and the revision of police training procedures and use-of-force policies.
“George Floyd’s brutal killing itself, as well as the horrifying inappropriate response of many police to peaceful uprisings, highlight the need to hold police to a higher standard,” Morial said.
The National Urban League and other civil rights groups recently united around other provisions of the bill including changes to law that would allow individuals to seek redress in court and hold police officers accountable when they violate constitutional rights of persons.
“The erosion of trust that has resulted from rampant police misconduct and blatant lack of accountability hampers the ability of police to execute their duties effectively,” Morial said. “We look forward to working in concert with reform-minded local authorities and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to effect these desperately-needed reforms.”
The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. The National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its 90 local affiliates through the development of programs, public policy research and advocacy, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people annually nationwide.
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