400+ Civil Rights Organizations Urge Congressional Action on Police Violence

One June 1, 2020, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 400 other civil rights organizations called on congressional leadership to swiftly rectify the legacy of white supremacy and anti-black racism that has led to police violence against black people across our country.

The group requested a meeting with congressional leadership to discuss urgently needed reforms that ensure police officers live up to their oath to protect and serve all people in the United States.

“Now is the time for Congress to pass meaningful police reform legislation. While we appreciate hearings and resolutions, we need comprehensive measures to happen. We need Congress to truly step up to the plate and protect Black communities from the systemic perils of over policing, police brutality, misconduct, and harassment, and end the impunity in which officers operate in taking the lives of Black people. It is your moral and ethical duty to ensure Black people and communities are free from the harm and threats from law enforcement and to curtail state sanctioned police violence and militarized police responses,” the groups said in the letter.

The federal reforms addressed in the letter include:

  • Require a federal standard that use of force be reserved for only when necessary as a last resort after exhausting reasonable options, and incentivize states to implement this standard; require the use of de-escalation techniques, and the duty to intervene; ban the use of force as a punitive measure or means of retaliation against individuals who only verbally confront officers, or against individuals who pose a danger only to themselves; and require all officers to accurately report all uses of force;
  • Prohibit all maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force, deeming the use of such force a federal civil rights violation;
  • Prohibit racial profiling with robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities. Data should capture all demographic categories and be disaggregated;
  • Eliminate federal programs that provide military equipment to law enforcement;
  • Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially for drug searches;
  • Change the 18 U.S.C. Sec. 242 mens rea requirement from willfulness to recklessness, permitting prosecutors to successfully hold law enforcement accountable for the deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties;
  • Develop a national public database that would cover all police agencies in the United States and its territories; and,
  • End the qualified immunity doctrine that prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law.

For more information, please visit civilrights.org/blog.

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