Friday, June 12, 2020. New York City – On Thursday, June 11, 2020, Bernie Sanders sent this email.
I don’t have to tell anybody that the American people are sick and tired not just of police brutality, but of police murders.
We are still reeling from the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. But as everybody knows, George Floyd was just one of many African Americans who have been murdered by police. Before him, it was Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Rekia Boyd, Walter Scott, and many, many, many others.
In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of people across the country have rightly taken to the streets to call for an end to all forms of systemic racism throughout our country. The message is clear: we must rethink policing in America and reform our broken and racist criminal justice system. We must invest in education, jobs, housing and health care — not more jails and incarceration. We must create a government that works for all, not just the few.
That is why I am calling on the Senate to act NOW to end police murders, police brutality and a very broken criminal justice system. I very much hope that you will join me. Together, we can transform this country.
Here are some concepts that I believe must be implemented into law:
- Every police officer involved in a murder must be held accountable, and those found guilty must be punished with the full force of the law. That includes officers who stand by while these brutal acts take place.
- The Department of Justice must investigate every killing of a person by police or while in police custody.
- Police departments must look like the communities they serve. They must be a part of those communities, and not be seen as invading, heavily-armed occupying forces.
- It is time to abolish “qualified immunity,” so police officers are held civilly liable for abuses.
- We must prohibit the transfer of offensive military equipment to police departments.
- Police departments that violate civil rights must be stripped of federal funds.
- We need to provide funding to states and municipalities to create a civilian corps of unarmed first responders to supplement law enforcement. For too long we have asked police departments to do things which they are not trained or prepared to do and have criminalized societal problems like addiction and homelessness and mental illness. These are not problems that are solved by policing or incarceration.
- We need to make records of police misconduct publicly available, so that an officer with a record of misconduct cannot simply move two towns over and start again.
- All jurisdictions that receive federal grant funding must establish independent police conduct review boards that are representative of the community and that have the authority to report deaths that occur at the hands of police or in police custody to federal authorities for investigation.
- We need to ban the use of rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray on protestors. And we need to ban the use of facial recognition technology by the police.
This is a moment of urgency. Let us come together to address the systemic racism that exists in policing today. Let us demand that the Senate act.
Thank you for being part of the struggle to demand racial justice in this country.
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