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Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement based on reports that Attorney General Sessions will lift the Obama administration’s ban on the transfer of some military surplus items to domestic law enforcement:
“These guidelines were created after Ferguson to ensure that police departments had a guardian, not warrior, mentality. Our communities are not the same as armed combatants in a war zone. It is especially troubling that some of this equipment can now again be used in schools where our children are sent to learn.
The Leadership Conference, our member organizations, and law enforcement groups played an important role in negotiating the carefully crafted Obama-era safeguards recommended by the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The safeguards were reasonable: police departments don’t need grenade launchers and bayonets to protect our communities; they should have the appropriate training for the equipment they use; and the federal government should have checks and accountability measures for law enforcement’s use of certain military equipment.
Most in law enforcement understand why these guidelines and this approach to policing are critical to rebuilding trust with the communities they serve, especially communities of color, and also to reducing the risk of violence in our communities. In the absence of leadership from this administration, state and local governments must create their own guidelines for limiting the acquisition of military equipment, and how it can be used.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is 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.