Sunday, August 23, 2015

John Legend on Police Profiling and Black Lives Matter

I’m writing you today to talk about an issue that is deeply personal to me -- the epidemic of racial profiling and police brutality that threatens the lives and liberty of far too many people of color and minorities.

As a black man, racial profiling is something I am far too familiar with. 

I was shocked to hear that my home state of California has one of the weakest racial and identity profiling laws in the country.(1) That’s why I joined my friends at Courage Campaign to support a landmark bill that could fundamentally fix our state’s broken law, and I’m asking you to join us.

SIGN ON to ask your state legislators to support the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (AB 953) to fix our profiling law, improve public safety, protect the rights of all Californians, and advance police-community relations.(2)

As a nation, we are at a crossroads. Since the police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, and more, the Movement for Black Lives has captivated the world and shined a bright light on the desperate need for systemic changes to policing nationwide. And while many of us are talking about the problem and taking steps to address it, it seems that every day, we hear another horror story of a person of color being stopped, assaulted, or killed by the hands of law enforcement. Each story makes my heart hurt. This can’t go on.

It goes without saying that not every police officer is a racist and not every person of color that is arrested is innocent. But when the evidence clearly shows that Blacks are stopped TWICE as often as their peers, and Blacks and Latinos are searched at THREE AND TWO TIMES the rate of Whites, respectively, it would be naive not to acknowledge that there is something fundamentally and tragically wrong.(3) And we can’t stand back while my life, and the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters continue to be threatened.

This is California’s moment to do the right thing and address the urgent cry to fix our broken racial profiling laws to improve law enforcement transparency and accountability.

JOIN ME to ask our state leaders to support the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (AB 953) to help California lead the nation against profiling and police brutality.

The issue doesn’t stop with racial profiling. The underlying structural issues that contribute to our country’s overwhelming problem of mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline run much deeper than that. And right now, there is an unprecedented opportunity for California’s state legislators to pass substantial criminal justice legislation that addresses the root causes of crime and violence, beyond AB 953, that could serve as models for the nation.

Courage Campaign and I are supporting the following bills that would dramatically improve the health and well-being of children, mothers, fathers, and siblings who are currently incarcerated, and I am asking you to join us and support them:
  • SB 124 (Leno) – a bill that would that would end solitary confinement for children;
  • SB 261 (Hancock) – a bill that would make certain individuals – who were under the age of 23 when they committed the crime – eligible for a youth offender parole hearing after serving a lengthy prison sentence;
  • SB 219 (Liu) – a bill that would codify and expand access to the existing Alternative Custody Program so that women can retain close family ties and help end the intergenerational cycle of incarceration; 
  • AB 1352 (Eggman) – a bill that allows defendants to withdraw a guilty or no contest plea to avoid harsh and unintended consequences;
  • and AB 1056 (Atkins) – a bill that would create the Second Chance Program for Community Re-entry and provide direction to the Board of State and Community Corrections grant-making process to prioritize community-based alternatives.
JOIN ME to support AB 953 and these other bills to positively transform our state’s current juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Yours in the fight for racial and criminal justice,

John Legend

No comments:

Post a Comment