This past weekend I joined the peaceful protests in Washington, D.C. to demand action to end police violence against Black Americans. The urgency was palpable and powerful.
Simply put, America is at a crossroads right now to define where our country stands – either we live in a nation that respects and protects people no matter the color of their skin or we don’t. There is no in-between.
Black lives matter, today and every day. As Americans, we bear a moral obligation to make this abundantly clear in our actions, policies and institutions.
Earlier this week, I acted upon that obligation by joining Democrats in Congress in introducing the Justice in Policing Act. This bill is a comprehensive blueprint for remodeling what policing looks like in America, by holding law enforcement accountable and raising our standards of transparency. This is just a first step toward accountability, and I am all in with pressing forward to get this passed.
Here’s a quick look at what the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would achieve:
* Prohibit federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandate training on racial, religious and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement;
* Ban chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement;
* Establish a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or on agency leave from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability;
* Establish public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help re-imagine and develop concrete, just and equitable public safety approaches;
* Require state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion and age; and more.
Also, last week I announced that as the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee – which is responsible for a large portion of federal health care policy – I intend to throw the Committee’s full weight and authority into addressing health care disparities that hurt Black Americans and people of color. For too long, Black Americans and other communities of color have been abused by our health care system and fallen through the cracks. It is long past time to fix this disparity, and that’s exactly what I’ll be fighting to accomplish.
These steps are only the beginning. Reform isn’t enough. I believe that to move forward in the fight for racial equity, communities across the country must invest in programs that boost education, health care and jobs, especially in Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. This isn’t a radical idea. It’s good governance, plain and simple.
Know that I’m here with all of you in this fight against racial inequity and police brutality.
Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon