Congressional Black Caucus members say police shootings of black youths in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere around the country are symptoms of racism, and reforms are needed in a criminal justice system that they charge fails to hold police responsible for racially profiling blacks in fatal shootings.
"The fact that our country, the greatest country in the world, remains mired in race relations issues in the year 2014 is a great embarrassment," Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge, who chairs the caucus, said during an hour of House of Representatives floor speeches, Cleveland.com reports.
Repeating the chant that has become a rallying cry at protests of the police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told lawmakers, "'Hands up, don’t shoot'" is also the anthem for "people all across America who are fed up with police violence in community after community after community," the Washington Examiner reports.
Fudge added a grand jury's decision last month not to indict Wilson was “another slap in our face ... a reminder that law enforcement officers kill our black and brown men and boys without repercussions.”
Added Ohio Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty: “[Brown] was supposed to start technical college. He hoped to start his own business. He strove to set an example for his younger siblings. Instead, another loss. Michael Brown fell victim to a criminal justice system that too often fails people of color.”
Though applauding President Barack Obama's request
Monday for $263 million for body camera training and equipment for police officers, caucus members called for more, the Washington Examiner reports.
"I would hope we would look to legislative fixes with our colleagues to make America better," said Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, saying the American jury system needs reform. "The Congressional Black Caucus will not be silenced," she said. "America is better than this, a country that we love.... We must fix it, and we must fix it now."
Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green also praised by name the five St. Louis Rams football players
who on Sunday entered the stadium displaying the “Hands up, don’t shoot” gesture as a show of support for the protesters – a gesture that enraged police.
The National Journal reports
veteran New York Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel derided America's "cancer."
"Like anything else you love, if there's an illness, if there's a problem, you would want to know: What can you do to cure it?" he said. "How can you make it all that our country can be?" Rangel said. "How can we say that we have a cancer until we recognize that we do, then we don't really love the country? How can we be able to say that white and black in this country are equal and that those who work hard and live by the rules have the same opportunities as each other, when we know that we have this cancer?"
In a letter to the White House, Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings outlined specific requests, including that the Department of Justice "develop the training for law enforcement officers to counteract racial bias," the National Journal reports.
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