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Black Lives Matter- A MCHR Statement on Police Brutality in America

Posted June 8th, 2020  |  Statements

MCHR Statement

Black Lives Matter

The recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police and Ahmaud Arbrey by white supremacists are appalling examples of the continuing pandemic of racial injustice in the United States. We (Michigan Coalition for Human Rights) stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens all over the country who have taken to the streets to protest these and other murders by those who inflict disproportionate violence on African Americans.

In particular, we condemn police violence against unarmed civilians, whether they are protesting peacefully and/or trying to survive in distressed circumstances. We stand against attempts of reactionary and establishment forces to suppress that protest movement though police and military action, to delegitimize it, to demean portions of it, and to undermine and split it through the use of racism, radical baiting, and saboteurs/agents provocateurs.

The instances of police violence and killing will tragically continue until there are fundamental reforms in policing and the whole criminal justice system. Indeed, police violence against communities of color result in as many killings in the United States in a few days as other countries experience over years. The legacy of institutionalized racism permeates police departments around the country. It is often the case that police brutalize and kill African Americans and other people of color because of this racist legacy. In too many instances, cops guilty of such brutality and killing escape any legal punishment. This must stop now!

Over the years police departments have become more militarized. As a consequence of the Pentagon program, called Section 1033, surplus arms and military equipment are given to police departments. In turn, this militarization reinforces the belief that civilians are the enemy. We urge our congressional representatives to terminate this program.

Beyond militarized police departments, the funding for police, even under liberal mayors, not only continues to rise, even as crime goes down, but also comes at the expense of funding for essential social services. Therefore, we support efforts to “Defund the Police” by eliminating payment for military hardware and getting police out of the schools.

At a minimum, we support the implementation of the following reforms in local police departments here in Michigan and around the country:

  • Police must be trained to address their racial biases and departments should immediately terminate those whose biases are evident in their behavior towards communities of color.
  • Chokeholds and strangleholds must be immediately banned.
  • All police must avoid situations that lead to the use of force. All peaceful means of restraint must be exhausted before using any physical force.
  • If a police officer is using excessive force, it is incumbent on other officers to intervene in order to prevent unnecessary harm.
  • Each time an officer uses force, the action should be reviewed in transparent ways with accountability determined by a civilian review board.
  • No weapon should ever be drawn against an unarmed person. No shots should ever be fired on a moving vehicle.

Finally, we urge our fellow citizens to seek alternatives to traditional policing policies. Let’s try not to involve policemen in family, neighborhood, or community conflicts, as the police often escalate conflicts. Let’s join with others calling for and working towards a fundamental transformation of society in which there will be no function for armed police, jails, prisons, and other institutions and agents of oppression.