As America collectively mourns the lives of countless Black Americans taken from this world by acts of racism, lawmakers and national leaders are joining together to say that it’s time for the legislation to reflect the country’s outrage. On Monday, roughly a dozen prominent politicians and activists held a town hall to discuss how we move forward as a nation and ensure that the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement are no longer dismissed and/or justified by the governing legislation we now live by.
“We need to speak their names, we need to honor them all, and we need to act,” Sen. Kamala Harris said on the call hosted by Marc H. Morial, the President and CEO of the National Urban League. The former prosecutor confirmed that she is personally backing a bill that would require a national standard for use of force. As it stands right now, Harris says the standard makes it hard for prosecutors to seek justice for victims of police brutality because the burden of proof on their part is almost “insurmountable.” Harris believes that it’s time that the language shift so that the question is no longer was the force reasonable, but instead, was it necessary?
The former California Attorney General also says it’s important that there be a national protocol for independent investigations in police use of force cases. Harris notes that it’s necessary for the sake of community trust and for justice. “People are protesting because Black people in America have been treated as less than human by history and today. People are protesting in America because our country has never fully addressed historical and systemic racism. And the people have the right to be heard. We must focus on why they are protesting,” Harris affirmed
When we finally focus on “the why,” the potential VP pick believes that’s when the true change will happen. That’s why Harris also says that in addition to calling for the legislation to change, we must also demand certain practices be put in place. That includes restoring the United States Department of Justice’s responsibility to investigate patterns or practice of discrimination. “If there’s one bad apple, there’s a whole bunch of bad apples,” Harris asserted. That’s why the California Democrat says it’s important to not only track it but also demand a national officer misconduct registry. If they are carrying a gun and badge, Harris professed that `they must be held to a high standard. “We cannot continue to have two standards of justice,” Harris declared.
On Thursday, civil rights activists who are demanding legislation changes and police reform, are also calling for a National Day of mourning. “The tragic and senseless loss of Black lives to police-involved violence over the last several years — and the callous indifference to justice in response – should have been enough to persuade the nation of the need for dramatic change,” a press release announcing the observance noted. Harris disclosed that she would be standing in solidarity with them in the same way she stands with the protestors who she says are exhibiting their pain, their anger, and their frustration.
“The problem is that we have two systems of justice in America and we need to make it a country that is true to its ideals where we say equal justice under the law. We need to have that mean something and we have to work together for concrete solutions that will help get rid of a broken system that has stolen Black lives for far too long.