Newswire : New report shows number of people killed by police skyrocketed in 2020

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

According to estimates compiled by the Mapping Police Violence project, roughly 1,000 people have been killed by law enforcement in the past year. The new report revealed that at least 28 percent of those killed were African Americans, who make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. Although this figure is staggering, the Center for American Progress (CAP) noted that it is almost certainly under-represents the actual number of civilians who died while in the custody of the criminal justice system. The full scope of which cannot be determined due to a lack of official data. According to CAP, data on deaths in custody is crucial for holding law enforcement and correctional facilities across the country accountable. The organization said the absence of accurate and complete information on the number of people who die in custody and the nature of such deaths, stifles policymakers’ ability to examine the underlying causes, let alone determine what can be done to lower the incidence. In a new brief, CAP urged Congress and state legislatures to take the initiative to ensure the dependability of forthcoming data on deaths in custody. “One year ago, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police as the world watched, spurring a blistering call for police accountability in the United States,” CAP noted. “Floyd is one among the countless Black Americans and other people of color killed by law enforcement: Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Amadou Diallo, Botham Jean, Alton Sterling, Daniel Prude, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clark, and too many others. In the year since Floyd’s death, the list has grown longer still with the deaths of Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, Daunte Wright, Ma’Khia Bryant, Adam Toledo, Andrew Brown, and, again, too many others.” According to CAP, while the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began collecting data on deaths in custody in 2020 under the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) of 2013, outstanding funding and compliance issues could compromise the quality of the impending data. “Findings based on such flawed data would not help policymakers understand the causes of deaths in custody or reduce their occurrence, the primary purpose of the DCRA,” CAP editors wrote. CAP’s brief underscored how critical actions could be taken to address these concerns about data on deaths in custody. “Congress should appropriate the necessary funding for the DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance to implement a methodology to search for and validate leads on deaths in custody,” Kenny Lo, a research associate for Criminal Justice Reform at American Progress, wrote in the May 24 brief. “A similar approach enabled the DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to identify nearly three times more arrest-related deaths than before as part of a broader effort that cost BJS less than $5 million between fiscal years 2014 and 2017.” For their part, state legislatures should look to compel all state and local law enforcement agencies to report DCRA data, Lo continued. States such as California, Texas, Maryland, and Tennessee already have laws that require all agencies to report data similar to those required by the DCRA, serving as models for other states to follow, Lo Wrote. Incentivizing DCRA compliance by all agencies would improve the quality of the data and bring about meaningful accountability in the criminal justice system, he continued. “Our nation urgently needs to confront the scourge of police violence against communities of color. Yet for decades, the government has failed to track the number of deaths that occur in the justice system,” said Betsy Pearl, associate director for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress. “While data collection alone can’t end systemic racism in our justice system and can’t bring back the countless lives lost, it’s essential for laying the groundwork to create real accountability and justice for all.” For more information and the full report go to the Center for American Progress website.

Newswire : Congressional Black Caucus introduces legislation to make the police more accountable

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today

House and Senate sponsors of legislation take a knee to pray for George Floyd


The Congressional Black Caucus on Monday introduced “The Justice in Policing Act of 2020,” legislation designed to make the nation’s police more accountable to the nation’s citizens, especially its black citizens, in the wake of the brutal in police custody death of George Floyd.
The May 25th murder Floyd by a Minneapolis cop has sparked worldwide protests about police brutality and has led to a demand in the U.S. for greater accountability by the police.
Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, called the out the names of other unarmed black men and women killed by police. Bass (D., California) said the names of several victims before asking other members of the CBC to shout out the names of other black men and black women killed by police.
Audience members screamed the names of Freddie Gray, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Dontre Hamilton, Breonna Taylor, Rekia Boyd, Corey Jones, Terrence Crutcher and Botham Jean.
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D., California), who helped write the legislation, said, “America’s sidewalks are stained with black blood. In the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders, we must ask ourselves: how many more times must our families and our communities be put through the trauma of an unarmed black man or a woman’s killing at the hands of police who are sworn to protect and serve them?
“What we are witnessing is the birth of a new movement in our country with thousands coming together in every state marching to demand change that ends police brutality, holds officers accountable and calls for transparency,” Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said during a Washington, D.C. news conference. “For over 100 years, Black communities in America have sadly been marching against police abuse and calling the for the police to protect and serve them as they do others. Today, we unveil the Justice in Policing Act, which will establish a bold transformative vision of policing in America. Never again should the world be subjected to witnessing what we saw on the streets in Minnesota with George Floyd.”
The bill, if passed and signed into law, it would:
Ban chokeholds, carotid holds, and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement
Establish a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic cops who are fired or leave an agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability
Amend a federal criminal statute from a “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard to successfully identify and prosecute police misconduct
Require state and local law enforcement agencies to report us of force data by race, gender, disability, religion and age
Mandate the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal officers and require state and local enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras
Prohibit federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandate training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement
Reform qualified immunity so that individuals are not barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights
Establish 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
Create law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices and require the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing
Improve the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and create a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments
Establish a Department of Justice task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, states and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
Thirty-five members of the U.S. Senate and 166 members of the House of Representatives are sponsoring the bill.