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Police take the lives of 1,000 people every year. A disproportionate share of these deaths are Black and brown people. We say this a lot because it bears repeating: these are people with stories, hopes, fears, potential, and the Light of God within them.

Police take the lives of 1,000 people every year. We say this a lot because it bears repeating: these are people with stories, hopes, fears, potential, and the Light of God within them.

Police need to act more peacefully in communities and serve with accountability. We’ve been advocating fervently for a federal solution for more than one year since the tragic murder of George Floyd in May of 2020. And we’ll keep pushing because lives are still being lost.

We were saddened to see that the bipartisan Senate negotiations on the Justice in Policing Act (JPA) ended without a deal. It is a sad reality that many in Congress don’t feel the weight of these deaths like we do in communities across the country. They certainly don’t feel them like we do in Black and brown neighborhoods.

For these, very privileged, members of Congress the containment strategy facilitated by ballooning police budgets in certain communities in the place of providing other needed services—like housing, childcare, education, or jobs—is an effective strategy. One we don’t acknowledge enough. It is easier to deal with the symptoms as opposed to tackling the root causes of crime and poverty.

For many members of Congress, the people who solve crime are public servants who should always be lauded. Any instances of abuse even shootings and murders (euphemistically called “officer-involved shootings”) are merely indicative of rogue agents to them. For some members of Congress these are officers who should be rooted out and fired, and that is enough. They fail to see the consistent pattern of white supremacy underlying this violence. They fail to see that many of these officers view certain populations, namely Black people, as more criminal and more likely to be a threat. This is deadly white supremacy manifesting itself in U.S. policing. It’s endemic but unfortunately, for some, still difficult to see. Sadly, the deaths will not stop because poverty and racism are deep problems that we are far from addressing.

We’ve been advocating fervently for a federal solution for more than one year since the tragic murder of George Floyd in May of 2020. And we’ll keep pushing because lives are still being lost.

The work cannot stop. It requires that we be persistent in seeking true justice, not just in nomenclature. We have been advocating for elements of the Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280) to be included in the Fiscal Year 2022 annual spending bills. It is possible to advance these changes through appropriations bills because the JPA largely sought to change policy through conditions on federal grant programs.

The FY 2022 spending bill passed in the House—an important step. Yet challenges remain in the Senate. These annual spending bills typically require sign-off from both the minority and the majority parties. The controversial nature of this policy proposal means that we are going to need a concerted effort to get it across the finish line in the Senate.

Your voice is needed. Please reach out to your Senators and urge them to include the reforms in JPA in the spending bills that eventually will fund the government.

 

José Santos Woss

José Santos Woss

Director for Justice Reform
José is FCNL’s Director for Justice Reform. He leads FCNL’s work on criminal justice reform, election integrity, and policing.