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WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement in response to the introduction of the Back the Blue Act by Senators John Cornyn, R. Texas, and Ted Cruz, R. Texas:
“Today’s introduction of the ‘Back the Blue Act’ represents the kind of knee-jerk, tough-on-crime mentality that places senseless retribution above the need for justice and fairness in our justice system. There are already laws on the books to address the killing of law enforcement officers. This bill is legislative overreach of the kind we haven’t seen since the ‘War on Drugs’ policies of the 1980s and 1990s.
What America needs is smart, carefully drawn justice reform policy that protects all Americans – police and civilians alike – and a commitment to working together to build safe communities. For the last three years, our nation has been engaged in a vitally important conversation about racial and ethnic bias in policing and the proper role of law enforcement in a democratic society. That conversation has regrettably led to very little progressive action in Congress. Criminal justice bills addressing discriminatory profiling, sentencing, the militarization of law enforcement, and policing-for-profit policies have been languishing in Congress.
It’s time for us to decide what kind of country we want to be. Either we reform a justice system that perpetuates a breakdown in trust between law enforcement and communities of color or we offer ineffectual solutions that only exacerbate the problems and inflame tensions.
The tragedy in Dallas last week deserves a response. But so, too, do the tragedies in Baton Rouge and Minnesota.”
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.