FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, June 24, 2020
More info: Sam Pfeifle, Lisa for Maine Press Coordinator 207-749-0298 firstname.lastname@example.org @SamPfeifle
Today Lisa Savage, independent Green candidate for U.S. Senate in Maine's ranked choice voting race for the seat currently held by Susan Collins, released the following statement in response to the upcoming vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the U.S. House of Representatives:
Unaccountable policing that targets Black men, women, and children cannot continue. There will be no peace until we make substantial advances towards dismantling a systemically racist law enforcement system. And that is why I stand in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to be voted on the House Floor tomorrow. That being said, it’s still not enough. It is just the beginning.
We need to defund the police and reallocate funds towards services that prevent crime more effectively, such as better access to education, health care, and other social services. Most police budgets are created at the state and local level. However, Congress has a powerful bargaining chip to influence how those budgets are spent: existing federal grants that state and local governments rely on.
In fact, provisions in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would allow Congress to use existing federal grants as a bargaining chip to:
- “Create an independent process to investigate misconduct or excessive use of force” by police through grants to the state attorneys general.
- Require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to adopt anti-discrimination policies and training programs.
- Prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding from using chokeholds or other carotid holds (which led to the deaths of George Floyd and Eric Garner).
- Prohibit the issuance of no-knock warrants (warrants that allow police to conduct a raid without knocking or announcing themselves) in drug investigations.
- Mandate that officers use deadly force only as a last resort and that de-escalation be attempted.
- Establish a federal registry of police misconduct complaints and disciplinary actions.
How government spends our tax dollars is representative of our values. A budget is a moral document. And we believe that Congress can use this mechanism to lead the way in defunding the police.
Police officers are not above the law. And that’s why the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is heavily focused on police accountability, in that it would grant power to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to issue subpoenas to police departments as part of "pattern or practice" investigations. This bill would reform, but unfortunately not end, “qualified immunity” used to keep police officers protected from civil lawsuits and amending federal civil rights law to allow more effective prosecution of police misconduct by changing the standard from “willfulness” to “recklessness.”
We have also called for a demilitarizing of the police. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has a provision to restrict the transfer of military equipment to police, but falls short of where we need to go. We must ban the use of already obtained military weapons, tear gas, or rubber bullets.
One step forward by the federal government isn’t going to be enough when we are dealing with hundreds of years of systemic racism. But it’s also an important first step towards police accountability that must not lose momentum. We lead together.
Find information about Lisa Savage, her policy positions, background, and how to support her people-powered campaign at www.LisaforMaine.org.