[Editor’s note: The following statement was issued by the JACL’s executive director, David Inoue, and VP, Public Affairs, Sarah Baker.]
Last week the House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020. Thus far it is the most comprehensive effort to reform and reshape a justice system that has consistently failed. To date, there has been no justice for the Black lives lost to brutal and inhumane police tactics. This is why major systemic changes must be undertaken and this legislation is a step in the right direction.
The bill passed in the House makes important first steps towards the beginning of long-overdue accountability of law enforcement to the people by establishing a federal standard for use of force, ban on chokeholds, the prohibition of the use of no-knock warrants, and demilitarization of the police. But even these policies could be stronger and we call upon the Senate to strengthen these provisions along with others.
We further call upon the Senate to expand the investment in community-based solutions including but not limited to social workers, mental health service providers, community health centers, substance abuse programs, and equitable public school funding. Investment in these types of programs will reduce the need for police to respond outside their core responsibility of crime prevention. By narrowing the scope of what is expected of the police, we can demand greater accountability for performing their job as expected by the communities they serve.
Overwhelming majorities of Americans recognize the injustices that our justice system has wrought upon our Black communities, and now is the time for Congress to act boldly and with moral conviction.