Newswire : Congress moves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act measure forward

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

U. S. Capitol


The House Judiciary Committee has introduced the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the law enforcement culture, empower communities, and build trust between law enforcement and minority communities by addressing systemic racism and bias.
In a conference call with the Black Press of America just before voting on the measure, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said the bill should help save lives.
“This is a real historic day here in the capital as last week we introduced the Justice in Policing Act, and today we amend the bill,” CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said during the conference call.
“We call it the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I call it historic because this is the first time in many years that Congress has taken up a bill dealing with policing and I’m sure it is the first time that Congress has introduced such a bold transformative piece of legislation,” Bass stated.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would establish a national standard for the operation of police departments and mandate data collection on police encounters.
If it becomes law, the bill would reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs and streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations. It would also eliminate no-knock warrants and ban chokeholds.
“The idea that a chokehold is legal in one city and not the other, the idea that no-knock warrants are okay in one jurisdiction and not in another is very important. That must end,” Bass proclaimed.
A bill crafted by Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and an executive order issued by President Donald Trump, ask only for studies to be done on matters like no-knock warrants and chokehold bans, and have little bite, Bass and her CBC colleagues noted.
“In essence, their bills take the teeth out of this bill. This is not the time for superficial action,” Bass warned. “This is the time for us to demonstrate our ability to address the people who are peacefully in the street every day with comprehensive legislation.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:
• Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
• Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
• Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. saves lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
• Bans chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds.
• Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level.
• Requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first.
• Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.”
• Condition grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.
• Limits military equipment on American streets, requires body cameras.
• Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
• Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
• Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.
• Hold Police Accountable in Court.
• Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard.
• Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.
• Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
Empower Our Communities to re-imagine Public Safety in an Equitable and Just Way.
This bill reinvests in our communities by supporting critical community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
It establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just, and equitable public safety approaches. These local commissions would operate similar to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
• Changes the Culture of Law Enforcement with Training to Build Integrity and Trust.
• Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
• Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
• Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
• Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
•Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
•Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state, and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
Improve Transparency by Collecting Data on Police Misconduct and Use-of-Force.
• Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
• Make Lynching a Federal Crime.
• Makes it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.

Newswire : Congressional Black Caucus plans protest of Trump at State of the Union

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
During a lengthy, members-only meeting on Capitol Hill on January 19, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) discussed various options to protest the current President of the United States. Their protest plans centered around the annual State of the Union address.
President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address is scheduled for January 30.
The meeting the CBC held to talk over State of the Union protest plans occurred only hours after 66 members of the House voted to act on impeaching the President. That effort was led once again by Black Caucus member Rep. Al Green (D-Texas). Rep. Green’s second impeachment try failed 355-66. Three Democrats voted “present.”
Weeks after Donald Trump reportedly called Haiti, El Salvador and the continent of Africa “shithole countries” during a meeting on immigration with members of Congress in the Oval Office, many members have had it.
CBC members who attended the discussion confirmed that several options of protesting President Trump were discussed including walking out, wearing African themed garb and even not showing up to the State of the Union at all. The more vocal members included Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).
During an interview with Buzzfeed on January 17, days before the meeting, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) mentioned the CBC might hold its own State of the Union.
“We will…discuss how we want to respond to the president’s State of the Union. We could go, we could go and walk out, we could go and hold up fists…or we could not go, or we could hold our own ‘State of the Union,’” Richmond said.
A few Black Caucus members have already stated that they will not attend the president’s State of the Union address. They include Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).
Some CBC members are concerned about Congress’ largest caucus not being unified in protest, whatever form the protest may take. Other members wanted to make sure serious issues are highlighted and expressed concerns about the protest taking attention away from serious policy discussion. But in the age of former reality TV star turned President Donald Trump, others say that the best response is to fight fire with fire.
With protests in the air and in the streets around the first anniversary of the start of the Trump presidency, the timing of any protest the CBC may undertake on the night of the State of the Union is likely to receive serious media attention.

Regarding Rep. Green’s impeachment attempts, which House leadership is in opposition of, Green pointed out that Trump, “has by his statements brought the high office of president of the United States in contempt, ridicule, disgrace and disrepute; has sown discord among the people of the United States; has demonstrated that he is unfit to be president; and has betrayed his trust as president of the United States to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and has committed a high misdemeanor in office.”
Rep. Green’s form of protest was a legislative one. On the night of the State of the Union, we are likely to see a more theatrical display.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist, political analyst and contributor to the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. She can be reached by email at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.

3.

Newswire : Congressional Black Caucus declines follow-up meeting with Trump

By: Jacqueline Alemany, CBS News

Black Cong. Caucus.jpgMeeting of President Donald Trump with members of the Black Congressional Caucus
WASHINGTON — The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has rejected the invitation to meet with President Trump for a follow up meeting at the White House, according to a letter released by the chair of the committee, Cedric Richmond, on Wednesday.
Citing actions by the Trump administration “that will affirmatively hurt black communities,” Richmond wrote that concerns discussed during a preliminary meeting with Mr. Trump on March 22 “fell on deaf ears.”
· Trump asks black reporter to “set up the meeting” with Congressional Black Caucus
“Given the lack of response to any of the many concerns we have raised with you and your administration, we decline your invitation for all 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus to meet with you,” Richmond said.
“I fail to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for,” Richmond added.
Mr. Trump’s extended an invitation to the 49 members of the CBC to return to the White House for a follow up meeting on June 9th, first reported by CBS News last week.
Manigault, whose official title is Assistant to the President and Director of Communications of the Office of Public Liaison, was ridiculed on Twitter for signing the letter as “The Honorable Omarosa Manigault.”
In response to one Twitter user who asked if she had received a promotion, Manigault tweeted out a screenshot of a guide for “departmental correspondence” that recommends addressing an assistant to the president as “Honorable” in a letter.
However, an article by The Washington Post points to the Emily Post Institute of Etiquette which states that “the honorific is reserved for “the President, the Vice President, United States senators and congressmen, Cabinet members, all federal judges, ministers plenipotentiary, ambassadors, and governors,” who get to use the title for life.”
The CBC has been skeptical of Manigault’s role as an advocate for the black community in the Trump White House and her self-publicized degree of influence. A CBC source told CBS News that the group was not interested in what they predicted would be another “photo-op.”
Richmond specifically lists several efforts by the administration that would “devastate” the African American community, including
Mr. Trump’s 2018 fiscal budget, Attorney General Jeff Sessions plan to “accelerate the failed war on drugs,” cuts to funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the “effort to dismantle our nation’s health care system.”
Sources say that the CBC is not completely united in the decision to reject Mr. Trump’s invitation for a meeting.
In March, the Vice Chair of the CBC Gwen Moore told CBS News that refusing to engage with the President was a “luxury” that she did not have.
“We don’t have the luxury of saying we won’t meet with the president of the U.S.,” she said at the time. “We have 1,399 more days left in his presidency and I don’t think that our communities would be served well by our not engaging.”

Debate on Sessions nomination explodes over Coretta Scott King letter

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

corettascottking_loc_wc_web120.pngCoretta Scott King

The United States Senate debate over Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (D-Ala.) boiled over into confusion and accusations on Tuesday, February 7 as Senate Democrats carried their opposition into an all-night long protest.

But at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recited the words of a letter authored by Coretta Scott King, the late widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that’s been in the Senate record for over 20 years, the drama hit an all-new level.

The Senate floor fiasco would lead to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) releasing a blistering statement late in the evening calling the episode “disgusting” and evoking the name of Civil Rights Era villain and unrepentant racist Bull Connor.

Republican Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) objected to Warren’s reading of a 1986 letter by King’s widow, because it was critical of Sessions back when he was a prosecutor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) became the face of Risch’s objection, and rose to object to Warren’s reading of the Coretta Scott King letter.  McConnell asserted that the letter violated a Senate rule prohibiting senators from ‘Impugning’ other senators — known as “rule 19.”

Warren was then ordered to stop reading and take her seat on the Senate floor.  The Senate then voted to effectively censure Warren for the remainder of the debate on the Sessions nomination by a vote of 49-43.

The Senate voted on Wednesday, February 8 to confirm Senator Sessions to secede Attorney General Loretta Lynch as the nation’s top cop under the Trump Administration.

King wrote the letter in 1986 urging a Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee to reject then U.S. Attorney Sessions’ nomination for a district court judgeship. Coretta Scott King’s letter in part read that, “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly Black voters. For this reprehensible conduct he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”

The Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus released a blistering statement on the incident on the Senate floor hours later.

“Republican senators’ decision tonight to silence Coretta Scott King from the grave is disgusting and disgraceful,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, the chairman of the CBC, in a statement on the incident. “Mrs. King’s characterization of then U.S. Attorney Senator Sessions was accurate in 1986 and it is accurate now. He is as much of a friend to the Black community and civil rights as Bull Connor and the other Good Old Boys were during the Civil Rights Movement.”

Senators stood confused after that vote. Asking for points of order and clarifications on whether or not they could refer to anything negative about Senator Sessions.  Later in the debate, four male Senators, read from the same King letter that Senator Elizabeth Warren was censured for reading.

Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King’s youngest daughter Bernice King tweeted in support of Warren shortly after Warren was silence by Republican objections. “How do you honor #MLK but dishonor #CorettaScottKing, architect of the King legacy? #LetCorettaSpeak#LetLizSpeak” she wrote.

Senator Sessions had already been criticized during his confirmation hearing for several issues related to race, voting and his actions as a prosecutor.

Sessions once called the gutting of the 2006 Voting Rights Act reauthorization named after Coretta Scott King, “good news for the South.”  He also once prosecuted three individuals for voting fraud, including Albert Turner after they registered many in Alabama to vote.

The incident was the latest evidence that the coming years that mark the start of the Trump Administration are likely to be contentious ones on Capitol Hill.

 

Lauren Victoria Burke is a political analyst who speaks on politics and African American leadership. She is also a frequent contributor to the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Connect with Lauren by email at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.