More than 66 young Black elected officials from across the country are calling out Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, and others at all levels of government for a failure to address police brutality targeted at the black community. The letter, released April 5 by the National Black Caucus of the Young Elected Officials Network (NBC YEO), points to immediate actions that would help end police violence on Black people.
Svante Myrick, mayor of Ithaca and head of People For the American Way Foundation’s YEO Network, highlighted the recent police killings of Saheed Vassell, a mentally ill man who was well known in his community, and Stephon Clark, who was murdered in his own backyard. “This violence won’t stop unless we make it stop, by demanding more accountability and a change in the way we police,” Myrick said.
The NBC YEO letter called for:
- Federal, state, and local prosecutors to prosecute police misconduct. We expect prosecutors to achieve justice and use their power to monitor police abuse.
- Local prosecutors to create a local civil rights unit dedicated to investigating and prosecuting police misconduct fairly, transparently, and independently.
- State attorneys general to provide recommendations and guidelines for local prosecutors and investigators of misconduct to ensure police accountability.
- DOJ as well as state and local prosecutors to launch systemic investigations when agencies are suspected of engaging in “pattern or practice” violations and discrimination.
- Local mayors and city councils to create civilian oversight structures, select police chiefs who prioritize building trust with communities, conduct de-escalation and life preserving trainings, develop protocols to ensure these trainings are observed, and support alternative mental health interventions.
- Every police department to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and reject misguided practices such as “broken windows“ and “stop & frisk.”
- Explore regulations on police use of firearms.
These young elected officials are among dozens across the country who are already working on local changes in their own cities, towns, and districts, including:
- Passing juvenile corrections reform in Wisconsin
- Passing a Safe Transit policy for immigrants using the Bay Area Transit System (BART) system in San Francisco
- Prosecuting an officer who killed a young Black man for shoplifting in Virginia
- Introducing a gun violence reduction plan in Baltimore
- Selecting a police chief who prioritizes community building, and emphasizing community crisis and implicit bias training for police officers in Ithaca, New York
PFAW Foundation stands with these leaders and activists across the country to sustain Black lives and end all gun violence. You can read the full letter, and listen to a recent call with these elected officials.