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WASHINGTON June 8, 2020 – Leading national racial justice organizational leaders today issued a joint statement on the bicameral introduction of the Justice in Policing Act:

“This nation is facing another crisis of police killing Black people. While these killings underscore how much systemic racism endures in our nation, this moment has been met with a movement of people across the country demanding transformative change. Our organizations, along with national and local partners, have long worked for robust reforms and police accountability, and Congress is now taking action.   

“We support Congress taking an important step toward police accountability by introducing the Justice in Policing Act. In the aftermath of the recent police killings of Black people, we sent Congress a strong police accountability framework that is reflected in this legislation. The bill takes on critical issues such as redefining police misconduct, establishing a national use of force standard, increasing the U.S. Department of Justice’s authority to prosecute misconduct by law enforcement officers, and more. This legislation makes clear that police brutality, misconduct, harassment, and killing have no place in America. Many provisions in the bill reflect the insights of national and local civil rights organizations that have worked for years on these issues. As the bill advances toward passage, we will continue to work to improve it to ensure that real and meaningful change is achieved.

“We express appreciation to Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Bass, Chairman Nadler, and Senators Booker and Harris, for their leadership to quickly and substantively meet this moment and address this pressing issue.  If Congress truly represents the will of the people, they must take action swiftly to ensure equality and justice for all.”

The following leaders signed the statement: 

  • Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable
  • Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP
  • Marc H. Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League
  • Reverend Al Sharpton, president and founder, National Action Network
     

BACKGROUND

The civil and human rights community was successful in ensuring that a strong police accountability framework, which reflects calls for national and local civil rights organizations, was included in the legislation. The bill tackles critical issues such as redefining police misconduct, prohibiting no knock warrants in drug cases, and addressing militarization, among others. Many of these provisions were called for by more than 430 civil rights groups last week.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

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.
 

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s largest and foremost grassroots civil rights organization. The mission of the NAACP 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. Members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights and social justice in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work by visiting naacp.org 

Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender. For more information go to www.nationalactionnetwork.net

The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), founded in 1976, is one of the most active civil rights and social justice organizations in the nation “dedicated to increasing civic engagement, economic and voter empowerment in Black America.” The Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) is the women and girls empowerment arm of the NCBCP. At the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women, BWR promotes their health and wellness, economic security & prosperity, education and global empowerment as key elements for success. Visit www.ncbcp.org and follow us on Twitter @ncbcp and Instagram @thenationalcoalition.

The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. The National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its 90 local affiliates through the development of programs, public policy research and advocacy, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people annually nationwide. Visit www.nul.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @NatUrbanLeague.