March 4, 2021
Congresswoman Pressley’s Statement on the Justice in Policing Act
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued the following statement on the House passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act:
“This moment demands that we be bold and relentless in our pursuit of policies that address the crisis of police brutality plaguing our communities. Tonight marks a step in the right direction, but our work is far from finished and we must continue with great urgency.
“The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which I supported on the House floor tonight, will make a number of necessary and long overdue reforms to law enforcement practices at the federal and local levels, including restrictions on no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and use of force. The credit for this progress belongs to the diverse, multi-generational movement organizing for racial justice. They have spent months mobilizing to demand lawmakers pass meaningful, comprehensive legislation that meets the scale of the hurt so many in our community are experiencing.
“I applaud Congresswoman Bass and my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus for their leadership, for heeding these calls and by developing this legislation, which marks an important step toward increasing accountability in policing. It should serve as the floor we build upon going forward.
“We must be honest about the work that remains to be done. For far too long, Black and brown folks have been profiled, surveyed, policed, choked, brutalized and murdered at the hands of police officers. These fatal injustices cannot go unchecked any longer. Congress must continue working to address the totality of harm inflicted by law enforcement in communities across the nation, and pursue policies that shift resources away from institutions that perpetuate brutality and injustice and invest in solutions that promote community safety.
“After negotiations with the House Judiciary Committee, I have secured commitments to continue this work. The Committee has committed to holding a hearing on ending the unjust, court-invented doctrine of qualified immunity, which has prevented accountability and protected those charged with enforcing the law from consequence for breaking it.
“The committee has also agreed to hold hearings to review consent decrees and pattern-or-practice lawsuits against local police departments and to explore innovative approaches to public safety. These important commitments will guide our ongoing work to reform our broken criminal legal system, and I look forward to working with Chairman Nadler and House leadership to make these hearings a reality.
“A single bill will not undo the legacy of slavery that defines our modern-day policing system. Congress must continue to legislate accountability and advance polices that invest in community safety and center the dignity and humanity of all people. Our work continues.”
Earlier this week, Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) re-introduced the Ending Qualified Immunity Act to eliminate the unjust and court-invented doctrine of qualified immunity and restore Americans’ ability to obtain relief when state and local officials, including police officers, violate their legal and constitutionally secured rights.
In November 2019, Rep. Pressley introduced the People’s Justice Guarantee, a comprehensive, people-centered, decarceration-focused resolution which lays out a bold, new vision for justice in the American criminal legal system. The resolution aims to outline a framework that will transform the U.S. criminal legal system to one that meets America’s foundational yet unfilled promise of justice for all.
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