Black Lives Matter: Legislative Action I’m Taking to Fight for Justice
Systemic racism and injustices against black people and communities of color have been tolerated in this country for far too long. I hope this is our moment of reckoning: a chance for Americans to finally confront our original sin of racism and change the systems and policies that have perpetuated it.
The kind of systemic change we need will not be easy. It requires a focused, sustained effort by all of us, in solidarity with and spearheaded by people of color. Toward that end, I’d like to share with you some of the legislative action I am supporting as Congress works to do its part in dismantling unfair systems and policies to create a more just and equitable America.
Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (Rep. Bass, Senators Booker and Harris, and Rep. Nadler): If passed, this would be the boldest, most comprehensive package of federal police accountability reforms ever to advance through Congress. It would improve the culture of law enforcement and set high standards, helping build trust between law enforcement and our communities. Read more here: https://huffman.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rep-huffman-cosponsors-justice-in-policing-act-of-2020
Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Resolution (Rep. Lee): This resolution would establish a commission that would examine the effects of slavery and racism against people of color, on American history, and its impact on laws and policies we have today; similar to what some communities have successfully done on a local level.
Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2019 (Rep. Jeffries): This bill would outlaw the use of chokeholds by police by classifying them as an excessive use of force (This prohibition is also in the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, referenced above).
National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act of 2019 (Rep. Cohen): This legislation would require any law enforcement agency receiving federal funds to provide data to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on:
- The date of each instance when deadly force was used;
- The identifying characteristics of the victim and officer involved, including the race, gender, ethnicity, religion and approximate age of the victim;
- Any alleged criminal behavior by the victim that justified the use of force;
- An explanation, if any, by the relevant law enforcement agency of why deadly force was justified;
- A copy of any use of deadly force guidelines in effect at the time at the law enforcement agency;
- The nature of the deadly force used, including whether it involved a firearm; and
- A description of any non-lethal efforts that were taken before deadly force was used.
(Sections of this reform are also included in the Justice In Policing Act of 2020, referenced above)
Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act (Rep. Wilson): This bill establishes a bipartisan commission within the United States Commission on Civil Rights, tasked with examining the social disparities that disproportionately affect Black men and boys in America. The Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys will recommend policies and practices to improve upon current government programs.
The Ending Qualified Immunity Act (Rep. Amash): Under the legal doctrine of “qualified immunity,” courts have found that a police officer or other officials cannot be sued for violating an individual’s rights unless a prior case, in the same jurisdiction, has shown that the specific abuse or misconduct is a violation of the Constitution. This is a uniquely high bar that impedes Americans’ ability to protect their rights in court. (A section of this reform is also in the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, referenced above)
The George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (Rep. Jackson Lee): This bill would provide incentives for local police organizations to adopt performance-based standards, management, and training protocols to ensure that incidents of deadly force or misconduct are minimized, and those that occur are fully investigated.
PEACE Act (Reps. Clay and Khanna): This bill would change the federal standard for the use of deadly force by federal officers to require that force be used only when necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury. (This reform is also in included in the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, referenced above)
H. Res. 988 Resolution condemning Police Brutality (Reps. Pressley, Bass, and Lee): This resolution puts the House of Representatives on record as condemning police brutality and racial profiling and urges all levels of government to take urgent legislative action to save lives.
H.R. 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act (Rep. Jackson Lee): This bill establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals
for African Americans. The commission shall examine slavery and discrimination in the
colonies and the United States and recommend appropriate remedies.
H.R. 4339 End Racial Profiling Act of 2019 (Rep. Jackson Lee): The End Racial and Religious Profiling Act would prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from targeting a person based on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation without trustworthy information that is relevant to linking a person to a crime. The bill would require law enforcement to maintain policies and procedures to eliminate profiling, including increased data collection to accurately assess the extent of the problem. The bill would also require training for law enforcement officials and mandate new procedures for receiving, investigating, and responding to complaints of alleged profiling. (This reform is also in the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, referenced above)
My work does not end here, and I will continue to update the list as we take more action.