WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate’s failure to move decisively on comprehensive policing reform underscores the urgent need for Congress to follow the lead of their constituents, who overwhelmingly support an end to abusive policing practices, state-sanctioned violence and systemic brutality against Black people at the hands of law enforcement. Senate Democrats are right to call B.S. on the JUSTICE Act, a pathetic excuse for reform.
NOW supports the position of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to demand that Congress adopt a set of fundamental reforms that must be in any policing legislation Congress adopts.
These priorities are: (1) the creation of a use of force standard that allows force when necessary and as a last resort; (2) a ban on chokeholds; (3) a ban on racial profiling; (4) the establishment of a police misconduct registry; (5) the inclusion of a “reckless” standard in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 that enables federal prosecutors to hold law enforcement accountable for criminal civil rights violations; (6) a prohibition on no-knock warrants, especially in drug cases; (7) the elimination of the judge-made doctrine of qualified immunity, which allows officers and other government actors to evade accountability when they violate individuals’ rights by abusing and killing suspects; and (8) the demilitarization of law enforcement agencies.
In less than 12 hours, more than 450 civil rights, civil liberties, and racial justice organizations, including NOW, signed on to that letter to support these reforms – none of which are adequately addressed in Senate bill, S. 3985, the so-called JUSTICE Act. The Senate was poised to vote on this bill today.
While some Senate Republicans are showing good-faith interest in at least making a start at reform, Mitch McConnell continues to revel in his self-described role as the “grim reaper” standing in the way of racial justice. His political posturing and cynical maneuvering continues to cause irreparable harm to marginalized communities and is ultimately costing lives.
NOW activists will continue working with advocates to dismantle this structural racism that has disproportionately caused harm to the Black community. We stand for racial justice—and the victims of racial profiling, police brutality, and blatant prejudice and hatred. The American people know what’s happening in the streets. We demand justice.