Yes, #SayHerName and #BlackLivesMatter… because people of color continue to suffer intolerable acts of police violence.
To deny this reality is only to perpetuate the marginalization and minimization of people of color. Acknowledging the contribution of law enforcement and the sacrifice that comes in service of our communities cannot justify the devaluing of lives of people of color and the mentally ill that occurs all over the country and here in California.
Blacks are twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during police encounters. Whether a result of poor training, questionable temperament or bigotry, far too many die at the hands of law enforcement. We cannot hope to be a nation that affirms the value of ALL people unless we establish policies that end racial profiling. We cannot be afraid to put in place genuine independent oversight of police violence.
Beyond the demilitarization of our police forces, we must rethink the way we train law enforcement in dealing with tense or difficult situations. We must demand the implementation of techniques that emphasize de-escalation and preserve life.
The Democratic Party must call and work for the end of the private for-profit prison system and any profiteering associated with incarceration. We must have the courage to hold endorsed candidates and elected officials to our platform’s call for the abolition of the death penalty. We must recognize that for the same reason we oppose the death penalty – racial disparities in charges and sentencing outcomes, the very real impact race, poverty and class plays in the school to prison pipeline and the ability to retain adequate counsel – that we have a very real problem with over charging and over sentencing in all crimes.
We imprison more people than any other country in the world though we only comprise 5 percent of the Earth’s population. More than half of all prisoners in the United States are Black or Latino, though they are just one quarter of the population. And though former Gov Brown signed SB10, ending cash bail, many reform experts and activists have found the alternative replacement unacceptable due to the fact that a ‘scoring’ system using what many contend are racist algorithms and unlimited judicial discretion, threaten to increase pretrial incarceration. On top of this, the bail industry has now collected enough signatures to roll back the ending of cash bail. All of this to say, this is not what justice looks like.
Instead of pouring money into the prison-industrial complex, we need a complete reprioritization of our values by investing in education, jobs, and in particular, restorative justice, while we fight to replace cash bail with a system that is not biased against communities of color.