“Let us not love with words and speech, but with actions and in truth”

Written by mwulrm   // July 18, 2016   // Comments Off


Statement from the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League
July 18, 2016

The Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League has had as one of its core tenets a belief that much more can be accomplished through dialogue that is inclusive at every level and reflects diverse voices on all sides of an issue. We do not always believe that such dialogue will lead to agreement, but it does promote unfiltered understanding. And that understanding is usually the foundation of common ground.

We believe that the movement and notion that Black Lives Matter is not mutually exclusive from the respect we all MUST have for law enforcement, and the abhorrence we MUST have for violence of any kind against any one.

The tragedies we have seen in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas to both officers and citizens is unacceptable in every way. In the words of our colleague Erika McConduit, CEO of our Urban League affiliate in Louisiana, “We have wasted too much time, and lost too many lives.”

Bottom-line: We must move forward with respect for the dignity of every individual.

In that spirit, the Urban League movement throughout the country and in Delaware is calling for a restoration of trust between law-enforcement and the communities they serve, particularly in urban areas. The National Urban League Plan includes the following:

  • Widespread use of body cameras and dashboard cameras;
  • Focus on community-engaged policing, rather than criminalization of the poor and people of color;
  • Revision of deadly-force policies and increase training on use of deadly force;
  • Appointment of special prosecutors to investigate police misconduct; and
  • De-escalation and implicit bias training.

To be clear, the Dallas Police Department has been the very model for these kinds of reforms and a powerful example of how well they work. Since 2010, excessive force complaints are down by 64 percent, crime is decreasing, and in 2014, the city saw its lowest murder rate since 1930.

In addition, we firmly believe that more extensive background checks are needed. Local and federal authorities need to work together to identify and flag mentally unstable individuals, before they accumulate deadly weapons. The shooter in Dallas was rejected for membership in a black power organization after a background check. If that organization can identify dangerous individuals, law enforcement should be able to also.

Last, with 25 officers fatally shot in the first six months of this year, law enforcement remains a dangerous job, requiring split-second life and death decision-making skills. This is why the Urban League Movement advocates that they be given the very best tools to protect their communities and themselves, at all times. This includes regular comprehensive training for all officers, and supplemental training and support for the communities they serve.

The movement is YOU!

 GET INVOLVED:

Following, we have included pending state and federal legislation that targets police/community relations, racial profiling and guns. We hope you familiarize yourselves with the issues and get involved.

PENDING POLICE REFORM LEGISLATION:

  • Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act [H.R. 2875 (Conyers) / S. 2168 (Cardin)], which provides accreditation, training, and other federal resources to law enforcement, as well as requires data collection on police-community encounters. {NOTE: NUL has formally endorsed this bill which is consistent with NUL’s 10-Point Plan.}
  • Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act (H.R. 5221 (Moore)), which requires de-escalation training that focuses on the preservation of life for law enforcement agencies that receive federal funds. The legislation builds upon Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) guiding principles on use of force and PERF’s belief that “the preservation of life has always been at the heart of American policing.” {NOTE: This is consistent with NUL’s 10-Point Plan.]
  • End Racial Profiling Act (H.R. 1933 (Conyers) / S. 1056 (Cardin)), which prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from engaging in racial profiling and other biased policing. The bill would help law enforcement meet this mandate through training, funding, and data collection. As the Department of Justice formally acknowledged at the end of June, “most people experience some degree of unconscious bias.” Implicit and explicit biases have no place in policing. {NOTE: NUL has formally endorsed this bill which is consistent with NUL’s 10-Point Plan.}
  • Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 1232 (H. Johnson) / S. 1441 (Paul)), which demilitarizes police by prohibiting the transfer of offensive military weapons from the federal government to state and local law enforcement. Tanks, grenades, bayonets, and other weapons of war have no business in our communities.
  • Grand Jury Reform Act (H.R.429), introduced by Representative Hank Johnson (GA), requires the appointment of a special prosecutor to conduct an investigation and present the results to a judge in a probable cause hearing, open to the public, whenever a police officer kills an individual while acting in the line of duty. The bill also specifies that in order for local law enforcement agencies to receive federal funding, they would have to comply with this new process. [NOTE: NUL has formally endorsed this bill which is consistent with NUL’s 10-Point Plan.]
  • Police CAMERA Act (H.R. 1680 (Brown) / S. 877 (Schatz)), which provides federal resources for state and local law enforcement agencies to develop safe and effective body-worn camera programs that also protect civilians’ privacy rights.
  • The DUE PROCESS Act (H.R. 5283 (Sensenbrenner) / S. 3045 (Grassley)), which provides procedural protections for those subjected to civil forfeiture. The bill levels the playing field for individuals who want to challenge law enforcement’s seizure of their property by providing access to counsel, an increased burden of proof for the government, and other procedural protections.

PENDING GUN REFORM LEGISLATION (AS ADVOCATED BY THE DEMOCRATS):

  • Ensure Universal Background Checks: H.R. 1217, Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act
  • To Enact No Fly, No Buy: H.R.1076, Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act 
  • To Close the Charleston Loophole: H.R.3051, Background Check Completion Act
  • To Bar Firearm Sales to Hate Crime Offenders: H.R. 4603, Hate Crimes Prevention Act

STATUS OF GUN REFORM LEGISLATION:

  • GOP Views Mental Health Bill as Response to Gun Violence: On Wednesday, July 6th, the House of Representatives voted 422-2 to approve a mental health bill that the GOP leadership points to as a response to gun violence. The bill now heads to the Senate, where a companion measure is still being negotiated, but key players have said is being held up by a debate on whether and how to link guns to the bill. A vote could occur this fall. Democrats support the bill but call for new funding and new policies, such as increasing the number of psychologists and ensuring parity within the mental health system. However, Democrats do not view this bill as the answer to gun violence.
  •  Gun Control Bill Delayed Indefinitely: Days after the Orlando incident, Democratic members of the House, led by Congressman John Lewis, renewed the gun control debate by holding a 24-hour sit-in in Congress to protest House Republicans inaction on passing two gun control bills that would (1) ban individuals suspected of terrorism from purchasing a gun and (2) require background checks to purchase a gun. Following Democrats protest, House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed to call a vote on anti-terrorism gun control legislation once Congress returned from the July 4th holiday. However, those plans quickly fell apart on Thursday, due to disagreement within the Republican Caucus on some of the restrictions proposed within the bill, and due to concerns over violating individuals’ right to due process by denying them the ability to purchase guns on the suspicion of potentially committing a crime.

FROM JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:

  • U.S. Department of Justice Announced Agency-Wide Implicit Bias Training. U.S. Department of Justice announced that it will train its law enforcement agents and prosecutors to identify and address how their own implicit bias affects their decisions in the workplace. The training will be agency-wide and will involve more than 23,000 agents and 5,800 lawyers in the 94 U.S. Attorney’s offices.
Contact: Calvin Christopher
(302) 622-4304
cchristopher@mwul.org


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