Fighting Back: “We have an opportunity to reimagine public safety so that it is just and equitable for all Americans.”

 
 

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Rep. Karen Bass of California, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, discussing the Justice in Policing Act which seeks to reimagine public safety.

(In this week’s address, Chair Karen Bass of the Congressional Black Caucus discussed Congressional Democrats’ newly unveiled legislation, the Justice in Policing Act, which advances key steps to achieve transformational, structural change to end police brutality in America.)

“When society does not invest in communities, police officers are left to pick up the pieces. Police officers are the first to say it is unfair, that they are not trained to be social workers or health providers.

“Homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse are health and economic problems. The Justice in Policing Act reinvests in our communities and empowers them to shape the future of public safety through grants to community-based organizations to develop innovative solutions.

“We all want to be safe in our communities. We all want the police to come to our rescue when we are in trouble. We all want to support the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day for us. And, when we interact with police, we all want and expect to be treated with respect, not suspicion – and we should not be in fear of our life when interacting with officers.

“We are here to answer the calls of thousands who are marching.

“Today is an opportunity. An opportunity to reimagine public safety so that it is just and equitable for all Americans.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Transcript: Chair Karen Bass Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“Hello, I am Congresswoman Karen Bass and I represent California’s 37th District in Los Angeles. I have the honor of serving as the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Caucus is known as conscience of the Congress. The CBC was established in 1971 and for years have fought to address police brutality directed at African Americans.

“Three weeks ago, the world witnessed a horrific crime on the streets of Minneapolis: the slow, torturous murder of George Floyd. His tragic death has galvanized the entire nation to take a deep look at our history because Black Americans have been sadly marching for over 100 years to bring attention to this gross injustice. Black Americans have been marching against police abuse and for the police to protect and serve our communities, like they do elsewhere.

“In the 1950s, news cameras exposed the horror of legalized racism. The news cameras exposed the treatment of people who dared to challenge the system; news cameras exposed to the world that Black Americans did not have the same constitutional protections, that freedom of speech, the right to assemble and protest were not rights extended to African Americans. Seventy years later it’s the cell phone camera instead of the news camera that has exposed the continuation of violence directed at African Americans by the police.

“The sad truth is when people told their stories of police abuse, of murder, at the hands of police officers they simply weren’t believed. It has taken technology and active citizen involvement to document and expose this ugly reality in our country.

“But, now, the world is witnessing the birth of a new movement that has spread to many nations around the world, with thousands marching to register their horror at hearing the cry ‘I can’t breathe’ – people marching to demand, not just change, but transformative change that ends police brutality, that ends racial profiling and that denies local jurisdiction the power to fire or prosecute offending officers.

“That is why, last Monday, I introduced, along with Chairman Nadler and more than 200 Members of Congress, H.R. 7120, The Justice in Policing Act. This bold, transformative legislation will assist police departments to change the culture of policing, raise the standards of the profession and hold those officers accountable.

“Now, I know that change is difficult, but I am certain that police officers, who risk their lives everyday, are concerned about their profession and don’t want to work an environment where they are chastised for intervening when they see a fellow officer abuse a citizen. I am certain police officers would like to be free to stop and intervene an officer from using deadly force when it’s not necessary. And I am certain that police officers want to make sure that they are trained in the ‘best practices in policing.’

“So, to help support officers, this legislation will create the first ever national accreditation standards for the operation of police departments, national standards for officers, and it creates law enforcement development and training programs to establish best practices.

“But, despite our best intention, there will be some officers who cross the line. That is why the bill also includes strong accountability measures to keep unfit officers off the street. A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly-trained officers who are accountable to the public.

“If the Justice in Policing Act had been the law of the land several years ago, Eric Garner and George Floyd would be alive because the bill bans choke holds. If the bill had been law last year, Breonna Taylor would not have been shot to death in her sleep because no-knock warrants for drug offenses would have been illegal. And, this May, Tamir Rice would have graduated from high school. The officer who killed the twelve year-old child, after an encounter that lasted seconds, had been fired from another department; the Justice in Policing Act calls for a national registry that would have revealed his instability and propensity for violence.

“When society does not invest in communities, police officers are left to pick up the pieces. Police officers are the first to say it is unfair, that they are not trained to be social workers or health providers.

“Homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse are health and economic problems. The Justice in Policing Act reinvests in our communities and empowers them to shape the future of public safety through grants to community-based organizations to develop innovative solutions.

“We all want to be safe in our communities. We all want the police to come to our rescue when we are in trouble. We all want to support the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day for us. And, when we interact with police, we all want and expect to be treated with respect, not suspicion – and we should not be in fear of our life when interacting with officers.

“We are here to answer the calls of thousands who are marching.

“Today is an opportunity. An opportunity to reimagine public safety so that it is just and equitable for all Americans.

“Thank you.”

Any bolding has been added.

~

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. As we gather here in the Visitors Center, our Congressional Black Caucus is holding a forum listening to people, discussing our legislation, following up on yesterday’s hearing. As you know, yesterday, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing: Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability. That was their focus.

The hearing was profoundly emotional. If anyone saw it, it was, especially the testimony of George Floyd’s brother, Philonise. He is just – just a remarkable person. He and his wife, Keeta, were here. And he said – if you were in, if you saw, if you were in the room: ‘The people marching in the streets are telling you, enough is enough. Be the leaders that this country, this world needs.’ He challenged Congress.

‘George’s name means something,’ he said. ‘If this death ends up changing the world for the better, and I think it will – it has, then he died as he had lived. It is on you to make sure his death is not in vain.’ He talks about how wonderful his brother was, in dying as he had lived.

So, the Black Caucus is having that. And what the subject at hand was, was the legislation, the Justice and Policing Act, to ensure that George’s death, Breonna Taylor’s death, Ahmad Aubrey’s death and so many others, were not in vain.

But you must know, but it bears repeating, what this bill is about. It bans chokeholds. That makes it different from other bills that are around. It bans chokeholds, nationally; stops no‑knock warrants in the case of drug cases; ends qualified immunity doctrine that is a barrier to holding police officers accountable for wrongful conduct; combats racial profiling; mandates data collection, including body cameras and dashboard cameras and establishes a new standard for policing, among other things. It also passes our anti-lynching bill, the Emmett Till bill, that had already passed the House, but that’s in there as well.

So, it’s very important. I commend the Congressional Black Caucus, Karen Bass, the Chair. She’s also the Chair of the Crime Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, which held that hearing yesterday, and the leadership of the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Nadler, and Congresswoman Bass.

And, yesterday, when I chatted with the family before the hearing, George’s brother said to me, ‘I have a question for you. Is this going to happen? Is there going to be a bill that is passed? And why do you think so?’

It’s a question that many of you have, but coming from him, it was – it had power. And I had an answer, ‘Yes, it will be passed, because the public insists upon it.’ I, as usual, quoted Lincoln: ‘The public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything; without it, practically nothing.’

But, in order for public sentiment to prevail, people have to know. And more than anything, ever before, people do know what the challenge is, what the solutions are in this legislation and what the obstacles are to its passage.

So, we will not rest until it becomes the law. We will not rest until the changes are made.

And the rest of the country is ahead of us; in states and towns – cities and states and towns, people are acting upon some of these provisions already. So, it is our responsibility now to make sure that it does become the law.

As we’re doing this, we see another injustice: the disparity in the deaths of the coronavirus crisis. It is so sad that people of color have a disproportionate share of the deaths in this crisis. And there is a reason for that: because we do not have a strategic plan executed by the Executive branch for testing, tracing, treating, social distancing; to identify the size of the problem, those who are infected, so that we can treat them and conquer the virus.

That’s what The Heroes Act does precisely. Under the leadership of Frank Pallone, the Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee; Congresswoman Eshoo; others on the health committee and the rest, this legislation, The Heroes Act, says let’s open the economy. We all agree we want to do that. Let’s open the economy. Let’s have our children be able to go back to school safely, safely.

We don’t have a vaccine and we don’t have a therapy. God-willing, we will soon, and we hope and pray that science will be an answer to our prayers in that regard. However, we do have a path: testing, testing, testing. If there’s one word we should all be saying over and over again: testing, testing, testing. We’re not even close to what we should be doing on a daily basis.

The scientists, academics all over the country are preaching this, but the White House has not responded. And we must insist upon it in this legislation: testing, tracing, treating, social distancing. That will reduce the spread, kill – defeat this virus. And that’s, sadly, in terms of people wanting to get out and not doing so with a mask – real men wear masks, we always say. Without their masks, without their social distancing – if you’re going to insist on leaving shelter-in-place, do so safely: masks, distancing. Also, testing, tracing, treating, distancing.

And this is, again, part of the challenge here. People saw the injustice of the disparities of the coronavirus. We have an answer: The Heroes Act, The Heroes Act. The Heroes Act is also important because it’s aptly named to honor our heroes: our health care workers, our first responders, our teachers, our transit workers, our food suppliers, all the rest who meet the needs of the American people.

Many of them are risking their lives to save lives, and, now, they may lose their jobs. And why? Because states and localities have had extraordinary expenses to address the coronavirus, and they have lost revenue because of the coronavirus. The answer is The Heroes Act, which supplies resources for those two purposes, to states and localities.

I say this every meeting, if you want to know how your area is affected, go to speaker.gov/heroesact. You’ll see the whole bill, but you’ll also see how your state, your locality, your county is affected. That’s why we have bipartisan support across the country from state and local officials, Democrats and Republicans, demonstrating the need for this legislation.

And, by the way, it’s a big ticket, but it costs less than half than the Republican tax scam to give a tax cut to the high – the wealthiest people in our country, 83 percent of the benefits going to the top one percent. This is half of that. It is a stimulus to the economy. It is a job protector for our community, as well as meeting the needs of the American people.

And The Heroes Act also puts money into the pockets of people who need it most: Unemployment Insurance, direct payments to families in our country, issues that relate to feeding the hungry. Why would the Republicans object to that? I don’t know. You have to ask them. But there is bipartisan support throughout the country to feed the hungry: food stamps, the WIC program, emergency funding programs to feed the hungry.

It also has money for expanding FMAP, which is Medicaid, very important part of our health initiatives. And also saves the Post Office, the Postal Service, bipartisan support. One of the most popular elements of government. In fact, probably the most popular, over 90 percent favorable rating for the Post Office.

So, meeting people’s needs in a very special way now, but always. Ninety percent of veterans get their medicines through the mail, and so do other seniors as well – a large percentage of other seniors as well.

And, of course, I’ll just end with this piece of it – well, we also have the OSHA in there, the worker protection in there, which is really important to stopping the spread of the coronavirus as well. We also have in there something that relates to our most fundamental principle of our democracy, voting. Voting: $3.6 billion in the bill, less than 0.1 percent of the whole bill, for voting, for voting-by-mail. It’s something that has, again, bipartisan support across the country, bipartisan support among secretaries of state across the country. It is absolutely essential to our democracy that we remove obstacles to participation, now, even more so, when it is a health issue.

And I want to just dwell on that for a moment. What we saw in Georgia the other day was shameful. It was either a disgrace of incompetence or a disgrace of intention to suppress the vote.

Time, it’s all about time. The time it takes you to vote: four, five, six hours or more. In certain neighborhoods, twenty minutes or so, or less, in other neighborhoods. Really requires careful scrutiny, because it looks like part of a pattern, on the part of some, to suppress the vote. And some have even admitted it, and some – you’ve probably seen some statements.

But it is also a prelude to what could happen in November, because we see it as a pattern of suppressing the vote, misinterpreting the vote. I said we have to protect the vote: protect it leading up to the elections, protect it on the day of the elections and protect the count of the vote, so that every vote is counted as cast – as cast.

We see, as I say, manipulation of it in the social media. We always saw social media manipulation in terms of the peaceful demonstrations by those who would exploit that situation from outside the country, some inside the country as well.

So manipulation of the social media, obstacles to participation, suppression of the vote, all part of the Republican playbook. All part of the Republican playbook, because they’re afraid of the voters. They’re afraid of the vote. And we must inoculate against the actions that are predictable that they may take, and we got a picture of that in Georgia just a couple of days ago.

So, now, in terms of The Heroes Act, some of you have asked the same question that – I was asked about is the Justice in Policing bill going to pass? Are we going to pass The Heroes Act?

More and more, we’re hearing – this is from Senator – oh, excuse me – Secretary Mnuchin just this week, ‘I think we are going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy.’ I definitely – he went on to say, ‘I definitely think we’re going to need another bipartisan legislation to put more money into the economy.’

In addition to that, we’ve heard from the Fed that – well, the Fed has said again and again that we need more money in the economy and that we, as legislators, have a responsibility to tax and to spend in a way that grows, that grows the economy.

So, you know, they changed their tune. At first, they said we’re not going to do anything. Chairman Powell reiterated his statement this week when he said, ‘The key thing people need to understand is that there’s just a lot of work to do in the labor market. We’re going to stick with this and support that until the work is done. I think it may require Congress to help as well.’ He went on to say, ‘Unemployment is historically high.’

He said during a news conference, Wednesday, that would be yesterday: ‘My assumption is that there will be a significant chunk, well into the millions, of people who don’t get to get their jobs back – who don’t get to go back to their old job and there may not be a job in that industry for them for some time.’ Further, ‘Elected officials have the power to tax and spend and to make decisions about where we are as a society, should direct our collective resources.’

So, again, this is – to do nothing is the most expensive course of action. As the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, estimated just this past week, if we do not take immediate action, $16 trillion could be erased from the American economy over the next decade, $16 trillion.

And, yesterday, the CBO stated, restated that because of COVID, growth for the next year alone will be nearly $4 trillion lower than predicted as recently as January. Yet, Leader McConnell says, ‘Let’s take a pause.’

Let’s take a pause? This virus, again, is not taking a pause, hunger is not taking a pause, joblessness is not taking a pause, rent checks being due are not taking a pause and the bills are not pausing.

Okay. So, again, during this precarious time, COVID‑19 continues to rage. Racial injustice makes this deadlier. We cannot – we cannot pause. And so we are building public support in a bipartisan way across the country for The Heroes Act, building public support across the country, across all party lines for the Justice in Policing Act.

***

I’m pleased to take any questions you may have.

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

~

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is pumping up his base by reminding them that he is their anti-LGBTQ+, anti-reproductive rights standard-bearer.

Pelosi Statement on Trump Administration Assault on the Health of LGBTQ, Women & Vulnerable Populations

June 12, 2020

San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on the finalized Health and Human Services Department rule rolling back Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act to weaken anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans, women, communities of color and other vulnerable populations in health care:

“The Trump Administration’s latest shameful rule is a shocking attack on the health and well-being of countless vulnerable communities, including women, LGBTQ individuals and people of color, at a time when access to quality health care is more important than ever. Undermining the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination protections is a direct assault on basic health care services, from comprehensive reproductive care for women and families to life-saving care for communities of color, seniors, the disabled and the LGBTQ community. It is particularly disgraceful that the Trump Administration issued this new rule during LGBTQ Pride Month and on the day marking four years since the tragic Pulse Nightclub shooting.

“Our nation is in the midst of a health and economic crisis of staggering proportions. Instead of working to ensure that every American, regardless of who they are or who they love, has access to the care they need to stay healthy and safe, the Administration is rolling back life-saving protections for some of the most vulnerable communities and enshrining discrimination into vital federal guidelines. Religious freedom is no justification for hatred or bigotry, and every American has the right to seek and receive care without intimidation or fear. The Administration must immediately abandon this outrageous decision and give all Americans the reassurance that they will never be denied the health care they or their families need.

“House Democrats will continue to hold this Administration accountable for their dangerous assault on our fundamental values of equality and justice, and we will never stop fighting to ensure all Americans are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Bolding added.

~

2+

  2 comments for “Fighting Back: “We have an opportunity to reimagine public safety so that it is just and equitable for all Americans.”

  1. JanF
    June 13, 2020 at 7:50 am

    The Trump Administration and Steve Mnuchin hoped no one was paying attention while they were draining the Treasury to funnel money to their pals. They hated that their graft was being reported in the press – quick fix, hide the corruption!

    Pelosi Statement on Trump Administration Concealing PPP Loan Data

    June 12, 2020

    San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on reports that the Trump Administration has reversed course and is now refusing to disclose amounts or recipients of Paycheck Protection Program loans:

    “The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to be a lifeline to help vulnerable small businesses with the greatest need, particularly the minority, women and veteran-owned businesses that are struggling. The Administration’s decision to hide basic PPP loan data is a disturbing sign of its lack of concern for who gets this funding, how much they receive or why.

    “The American people expect full transparency to ensure that the CARES Act’s historic investment of their taxpayer money is used wisely and effectively to save lives and livelihoods, not to be used by profiteers and price-gougers.

    “The Administration must immediately reverse this decision and uphold its obligation to release this data.”

    The end of this maladministration cannot come too quickly. #VoteThemOut #Nov3rd2020

    2+
  2. June 13, 2020 at 9:04 am

    Thanks bigly for the “Fighting Back” Post, Jan. Agree with every word of Karen Bass’ speech and Nancy Pelosi’s remarks. I have no words to express my outrage over the Thing administration’s cuts to health care.

    It’s five and a half months until the end of the year. How much more damage can he do?

    2+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *