Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve had … a lot going on. Will say more later.
Too long, didn’t read: The MA Senate has created a police reform bill called the Reform, Shift, + Build Act. Among many other needed reforms*, it includes an end to “qualified immunity” for police officers, which is one of the major ways that police are shielded from accountability for their actions. This has provoked the ire of police unions, and a handful of Senators have delayed debate, in the hopes of jettisoning this critical portion.
Don’t let them do it. Call your State Senator (State House switchboard 617-722-2000) and tell them to end qualified immunity, and to pass the rest of the Reform, Shift, and Build Act.
As Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz said on Friday, there may never be another time when vulnerable communities of color, those most impacted by our warped policing priorities, have more power to change their own situation. Don’t let it slip away.
From Senator Julian Cyr’s website (I’ve copied the whole thing and pasted it below the fold):
Components of the bill include strengthening the use of force standards for all law enforcement agents, creating a Police Officer Standards and Accreditation Commission (POSAC), redirecting funding from policing and corrections towards community investment, placing a moratorium on facial surveillance technology, reducing the school-to-prison by prioritizing student safety over criminalization, removing barriers to expungement of juvenile records, demilitarizing law enforcement, banning racial profiling in law enforcement, creating a commission on the status of African Americans, and requiring increased data collection and reporting.
Does this sound wildly radical to you? It doesn’t to me. We don’t get a straight-up ability to fire police officers outright for misconduct; we get a commission on standards that will be partially filled with law-enforcement officers. We ban facial surveillance, which is invasive but also inaccurate when it comes to faces of people of color. There is absolutely no way that cops should have military gear like hummers and tanks; but the bill doesn’t outlaw them, it merely requires ” transparency and civilian authorization for military equipment acquisitions”. As I understand it, the bill doesn’t even do away with tear gas, but is simply supposed to minimize the cases in which it’s used. (No daylight for abuse there, huh?)
This is mild stuff, to be honest. But we need a full-court press on qualified immunity. That’s the big one — well, one of them.