In an effort to combat police brutality, the National Black Caucus of the Young Elected Officials Network has released a national agenda to not only put an end to the police killings of young people of color, but calls for a joint approach to gun violence as well.
The open letter, signed by 66 young black elected officials, calls out both President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who they believe has abandoned the Justice Department’s legal and moral responsibility to uphold core constitutional principles.
“Police brutality is a national issue,” said Baltimore City Council Member Brandon Scott. “President Trump’s comments to the contrary, that this is just a local issue, are disrespectful. If we are truly going to solve this, we need the Department of Justice to invest nationally in body camera technology and law enforcement training.”
The national agenda was released following the recent killings of 34-year-old Shaheed Vassell (left) and 22-year-old Stephon Clark (right), both at the hands of the police.
“Yesterday (April 4), police in Brooklyn needlessly killed Saheed Vassell, a mentally ill man who was well known in his community,” said Svante Myrick, mayor of Ithaca and head of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Official Network. “Two weeks ago, Stephon Clark was murdered in his own backyard. This violence won’t stop unless we make it stop, by demanding more accountability and a change in the way we police. Today, young black elected officials are coming together to say never again to police brutality, just as last week we said never again to gun violence.”
The Young Elected Officials Network calls for change and accountability at both national and local levels. Their list of demands include:
- Federal, state, and local prosecutors to prosecute police misconduct. We expect prosecutors to achieve justice and use their power to monitor police abuse.
- Local prosecutors to create a local civil rights unit dedicated to investigating and prosecuting police misconduct fairly, transparently, and independently.
- State attorneys general to provide recommendations and guidelines for local prosecutors and investigators of misconduct to ensure police accountability.
- DOJ as well as state and local prosecutors to launch systemic investigations when agencies are suspected of engaging in “pattern or practice” violations and discrimination.
- Local mayors and city councils to create civilian oversight structures, select police chiefs who prioritize building trust with communities, conduct de-escalation and life preserving trainings, develop protocols to ensure these trainings are observed, and support alternative mental health interventions.
- Every police department to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and reject misguided practices such as “broken windows“ and “stop & frisk.”
- Explore regulations on police use of firearms.
“From Saheed Vassell to Stephon Brown, what is happening across our country right now does not reflect a just America for all. As prosecutors, we hold the power of law in our office and with that comes a heavy responsibility. I urge my fellow prosecutors across the country to show our nation that we value every single one of our constituents, including the lives of people of color, by prosecuting crimes by police officers against them. When we were elected to be public servants, we took our oaths with the understanding that the tasks ahead would not always be easy. Fighting for justice must always be at the forefront and we must strive to always do what is right for our people no matter how uncomfortable or trying the road may be,” says Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales of Portsmouth.
Read the open letter here: http://yeonetwork.org/a-joint-open-letter-to-end-police-violence-against-black-communities/