Black Lives Matter, and it is clear that America has yet to truly confront and reckon with the pervasive individual and structural racism that this country was founded on. Congress needs to take action to not only address the horrifying epidemic of police brutality against people of color, but the underlying systems by which racial, social and economic inequality continue to be perpetuated.
Congressman Connolly is proud of the legislation he and the 117th Congress have been prioritizing to address these disparities and work towards a future of equity, equality and justice for all Americans, including:
- Being an original co-sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which ends qualified immunity for police officers, and which Gerry amended to ensure that all funds paid by the Department of Justice’s civil assets forfeiture equitable sharing program be redirected to public welfare. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed the House in March.
- The Justice is Not for Sale Act which would ban federal, state and local use of private, for-profit prisons and end immigrant family detention, as well as ending the price-gouging of prisoners and their families for basic services like phone calls and banking that disproportionately impact immigrants and communities of color.
- The Hate Crimes Commission Act to establish a bi-partisan, national commission to explore and expand reporting on hate crimes across the United States, particularly in response to the recent increase in violence targeting Asian-Americans.
- The Federal Death Prohibition Act to end the death penalty at the federal level, a heinous practice that is disproportionately imposed on the Black community and results in the death of innocent people. I have since co-sponsored her
- The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act, which gives local police departments incentives to improve community policing and reduce police misconduct and mandates the reporting of all uses of deadly force by officers to the Department of Justice, as well as creating federal minimum standards for police departments.
- The Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act which would finally outlaw the use of chokeholds by police officers.
- The First Step Act, a bi-partisan effort which became law in 2018 and which reduces federal sentences and mandatory minimums, as well as correcting the racially inspired disparity in crack-cocaine sentencing while curbing the most inhumane practices in incarceration and moving from a system designed for punishment to one designed for rehabilitation.
These are just a few of the actions we need to take as a country to fix our broken policing and criminal justice system and begin to end the continuing cycles of criminalization and violence perpetrated against our Black and Brown neighbors.