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SPLC Action Fund Statement regarding the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Police Use of Force and Community Relations

WASHINGTON — Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund President and Chief Executive Office Margaret Huang released the following statement regarding today’s Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Police Use of Force and Community Relations: 


“Let’s make one thing clear: the killings of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Sean Reed, Yassin Mohamed, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others are not the result of individual 'bad cops.' These murders are the result of entrenched racism and a system that was designed to enforce white supremacy. 


“In order to move to a more just system, we need to realize that previous attempts at reforms have failed. Reforms have never addressed the fundamental problem that policing is rooted in slave patrols created in the eighteenth-century and intended to control people of color. 


“The American public is demanding change and Congress must take action to deliver that now. The SPLC calls for legislation to implement meaningful, transformative changes to our police system —changes that will protect communities of color, end police brutality, and entrench the principles of fairness and equality. This moment requires nothing less.” 


The SPLC Action Fund has joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and over 400 civil rights organizations that outlined several key provisions that must be part of any Congressional action, many of which were included in the recently introduced Justice in Policing Act.  


Some of the provisions outlined, include: 

  • Reduce the use of excess force by creating a federal standard that permits the use of force only when necessary and only after all other reasonable options have been exhausted;  
  • Require the use of de-escalation techniques; require officers to intervene if they see another officer using excessive force;  Prohibit the use of force as a punitive measure or means of retaliation against individuals who verbally confront officers or against individuals who only pose a danger to themselves; and require all officers to accurately report any use of force; 
  • Deem the use of chokeholds, neck holds, and any maneuver that restricts the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain to be a federal civil rights violation;   
  • Uphold and enforce the principle of equal treatment under the law by prohibiting racial profiling and requiring robust data collection as a condition of federal funding; 
  • End programs, such as the U.S. Department of Defense 1033 Excess Property Program, that provides for transfers of military equipment to the police and enact the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act;   
  • Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, such as the one that caused Breonna Taylor’s death; Develop a national, comprehensive public database to track the names of officers who have had their licenses revoked or been terminated, as well as complaints against officers.