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September 22, 2022

Rep. Pressley Statement on Today’s House Votes

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) issued the following statement on the House’s votes today on four public safety bills:

“For too long, our nation’s flawed approach to public safety has perpetuated systems of oppression and inflicted hurt and harm on our most vulnerable neighbors—particularly our Black and brown communities. It’s well past time our criminal legal system center justice and healing, not criminalization and incarceration.

“Today, I was proud to support the public safety bills put forward by Congresswoman Porter, Congresswoman Demings, and Congressman Horsford, which together will move us closer to the trauma-informed, healing-centered approach to public safety that our communities deserve. I was especially pleased that the House passed the Mental Health Justice Act, which I am proud to co-lead with Rep. Porter, to help us take steps to protect individuals in mental health crisis and people with disabilities from police violence. This bill was informed by my People’s Justice Guarantee, which seeks to transform the American criminal legal system and I thank the advocates and families who worked alongside us to craft it.

“Today, I voted no on the legislation put forward by Rep. Gottheimer, which would increase funding for 95% of police departments without including long overdue accountability measures to address the crisis of police brutality that has plagued Black and brown communities for generations. In this moment, as we work to address systemic racism and police brutality, we should not be investing in the same approaches that have failed our communities time and again.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community. True safety means investing directly in people and taking a non-carceral, public health, and trauma-informed approach to public safety that affirms the dignity and humanity of all people. I won’t stop fighting for meaningful policies that do just that.”

Rep. Pressley is the lead sponsor of the Ending Qualified Immunity Act to eliminate the unjust and court-invented doctrine of qualified immunity and restore people’s ability to obtain relief when state and local officials, including police officers, violate their legal and constitutional rights.

On March 11, 2021, Rep. Pressley re-introduced the People’s Justice Guarantee, a comprehensive, decarceration-focused resolution that outlines a framework for a fair, equitable and just legal system. 

On May 11, 2021, on the 4th anniversary of Andrew Kearse’s death, Rep. Pressley, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Reps. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), reintroduced the Andrew Kearse Accountability for Denial of Medical Care Act to hold law enforcement officers criminally liable for failing to obtain medical assistance to people in custody experiencing medical distress.