Members of the Congressional Black Caucus spoke out Thursday against this week’s fatal police shootings of two black men, saying the nation needs to deal with “the cancer of racism” or such tragedies will occur “time and time again.”
“In the last 48 hours we have witnessed something that we are all becoming too familiar with, and that is the use of force by law enforcement that leaves families shattered,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) at a press conference, joined by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.) and others.
Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a father of five, early Tuesday morning outside of a convenience store. On Wednesday, police in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, killed 32-year-old Philando Castile during a traffic stop.
“You will see a lot of African-American males speak today,” said Richmond, who serves the district where Sterling was killed. “If we were not in a suit and tie in the halls of Congress, we would look just like the victims of deadly force, and because of that, we feel obligated to speak out about justice and injustice.”
Richmond said many of the caucus members plan to introduce a bill that would give families of people killed by police the right to an independent investigation, autopsy and prosecutor.
“We want to make sure that the likelihood of getting justice in this country when you are the recipient of deadly force by an officer is not impacted by demography or geography,” he said.
So far this year, at least 509 people have been fatally shot by the police ― and 123 of them have been black ― according to a tally from The Washington Post.
Carson, a former police officer, emphasized that “cops should not see every young black man or women as a threat.”