WASHINGTON – Leading civil rights advocates hosted a press briefing call today to outline why senators must oppose the Republican policing "reform" legislation, the JUSTICE Act. The Senate is expected to take a procedural vote to advance the legislation on Wednesday. Speakers included leaders from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Center for American Progress.
Also today, The Leadership Conference and more than 135 groups sent a letter to the Senate urging opposition to the JUSTICE Act and to vote no on the motion to proceed. That letter is available here.
To hear a recording of the call, click here.
"Instead of taking meaningful action, the Senate chose to put forth a bill that falls woefully short of the comprehensive changes needed to address the current policing crisis. It is deeply problematic to meet this moment with a menial incremental approach that offers more funding to the police, and few policies to end state-sanctioned violence against Black and Brown people. That is why we and over 135 other organizations are calling on senators to reject this bill and the motion to proceed. And it is why we will score tomorrow's vote. Now is the time for those in our nation's highest offices to end state-sanctioned violence and pass transformative police accountability legislation. It is time to reimagine what kind of America we want to build — an America where all people can live safely and freely," said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
"Black Americans, and especially Black transgender Americans, should not have to fear for their lives, but they do. They should not have to worry that a police officer will kill them, but they do. The Senate should not pursue legislation that simply leads to more over-policing. This is the wrong solution, and it misunderstands the problem we are facing as a country," said Alphonso David, president, Human Rights Campaign.
Hilary O. Shelton, director, NAACP Washington Bureau, said "We are at a critical juncture in this country for which we must put forth bills that address the real concerns of the people. The lack of police accountability and enforceable policies put forth in this bill fails to answer the problems faced by many people of color across this country. If we are going to solve the myriad of issues with policing in this country, we need a multi-faceted approach."
"This is a watershed moment for policing and policing reform in America. We cannot settle for low-hanging fruit, which is what the JUSTICE Act is. Any policing reform bill considered by Congress must be centered around accountability," said Edward K. Chung, vice president, criminal justice, Center for American Progress.
The Leadership Conference and more than 450 other civil rights organizations recently 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 Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. The NAACP is a c4 organization (contributions are not tax-deductible), and we have a partner c3 organizations known as NAACP Empowerment Programs (contributions are fully tax-deductible as allowed by the IRS). NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund — also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation's first civil and human rights law organization and shares our commitment to equal rights.
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people."