1. Update
  2. Criminal Justice

Sick and Tired of Tragedies at the Hands of Police

By José Santos Woss, August 27, 2020


Jacob Blake. Another name in the long list of Black men and women shot by police. This time a father, security guard, and a sibling. He was shot multiple times while his children watched from the car. Just imagine being a small child and witnessing your father being gunned down by police. Thankfully, they did not take his life.

Jacob Blake, 29 years of age, was held while being shot seven times in the back. This was an egregious use of force. This encounter, which has left him paralyzed, never should have happened.

Jacob Blake’s most serious offense: being Black.

This is what white supremacy looks like. That’s why proclaiming that Black lives matter is so important.

We Black people are sick and tired of tragedies at the hands of police.

When we say “Black lives matter” it’s for this very same reason. Police too often view us as dangerous and inherently criminal. They see us as having less value than someone with white skin. This is what white supremacy looks like. That’s why proclaiming that Black lives matter is so important.

Institutional racism infects every corner of life especially law enforcement. It’s unfortunate that some in Congress chose this time to laud the role of police in our societies. We need to call for more accountability instead of heaping blind praise on law enforcement. They have taken too many lives from our communities.

FCNL was proud to stand with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights as they put forth a strong letter outlining the challenges with policing in the U.S. and the following recommendations for fixing them:

  1. Require a national standard that use of force be reserved for only when necessary as a last resort after exhausting reasonable options;
  2. Prohibit all maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force, deeming the use of such force a federal civil rights violation;
  3. Prohibit racial profiling with robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities. Data should capture all demographic categories and be disaggregated;
  4. Eliminate federal programs that provide military equipment to law enforcement;
  5. Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially for drug searches;
  6. Change the 18 U.S.C. Sec. 242 mens rea requirement from willfulness to recklessness, permitting prosecutors to successfully hold law enforcement accountable for the deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties;
  7. Develop a national public database that would cover all police agencies in the United States and its territories; and,
  8. End the qualified immunity doctrine that prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law.

Many of those recommendations were incorporated into H.R.7120, the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act a bill that the House passed. We saw a much weaker bill—S.3985, the JUSTICE Act—proposed in the Senate. This legislation focused on studies and commissions and did very little to address the problem of police brutality in communities across the country.

The recommendations from the Leadership Conference represent the kind of nationwide solution that is needed. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for all 18,000 separate jurisdictions to implement changes like use of force standards or elimination of the 1033 program, which transfers military grade equipment from the Pentagon to local police departments.

Act now: Contact your senators and ask them to co-sponsor and vote for the Justice In Policing Act (S. 3912).

Support Justice in Policing

Your Voice is Needed! 

José Santos Woss

  • Legislative Manager, Criminal Justice and Election Integrity

José is the Legislative Manager for Criminal Justice and Election Integrity. He leads FCNL’s work on criminal justice reform, election integrity, and policing. He helps to lead the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition, an alliance of more than 40 national faith groups advocating to end mass incarceration.