Before and during the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session APV will be posting updates on bills we’re watching. Check in to see what we support and what we don’t.
Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Virginia Comgressman Donald McEachin, who passed away this week. Congressman McEachin served his district, the Commonwealth and the nation with great dignity and skill. He was a champion for human rights and worked tirelessly on envitonmental issues. He will be missed.
With APV Staff at the Arthur Ashe Center in Richmond.
2020 continues to be a remarkable and challenging year. Here at the Alliance for a Progressive Virginia we’ve had to adjust and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Things we’ve done for a decade have had to be put on hiatus including popular events and fundraisers, but our work as citizen advocates has not changed and we’re still here, giving your progressive values a voice.
As we’re all aware, the Governor has called a special session of the General Assembly which will begin Tuesday, August 18, 2020. APV is watching developments closely and will report back later this week. While the response to the ongoing effects of the COVID 19 pandemic will be on the agenda, it is clear that the murder of George Floyd and the spontaneous demonstrations that sprung up in its wake, have provided a singular opportunity to address systemic racism in law enforcement through legislative reform, and that will be front and center Tuesday.
APV has called in the past for police reform including an end to militarization of local police, banning of choke holds and changes in how we handle prosecution and incarceration. Since the June uprisings began we have added to this list and we hope to see significant progress on this front, this week. What we can’t get this week, we will be back for in the 2021 session which begins in January of the next year.
We have been shown some rough drafts of prospective legislation but it should be understood that matters are very much still up in the air. While Democrats currently control the executive branch and both houses of the legislature, the margin in the Senate is very thin. Compromises will almost certainly be made, but this is a significant start at real reform.
APV supports these measures:
- Establishment of Civilian Review Panels, with power of subpoena made up of representatives of the community.
- A ban on deadly restraint such as choke holds.
- An end to “no knock” SWAT raids.
- A system wide re-evaluation of policing techniques with an emphasis on community policing, conflict resolution and de-escalation.
- A systemic reexamination of hiring and recruiting. We continue to be deeply disturbed by reports of training that emphasizes physical dominance, escalation and a mindset that sees Black citizens as constant potential threats. We are also worried about an over emphasis in recruiting former military personnel who may bring attitudes and behaviors that do not belong on our American streets. Finally we are aware of efforts by neo Nazi/white supremacists to infiltrate law enforcement. This is unacceptable.
- We need an end to the decades long militarization of police forces. We need to end the program that gives surplus military equipment to law enforcement. It reinforces the idea among some in policing that they are in a war zone. It encourages them to see communities as more dangerous than they are and themselves as occupying forces.
- Reconsideration of the concept of “Qualified Immunity” where by police who have clearly committed assault or worse on unarmed citizens have escaped punishment.
- Establishment of a public database that tracks law enforcement officers dismissed for misconduct.
APV staff recently interviewed State Senator Jennifer McClellan (9th District). Sen. McClellan spoke about a number of issues that will be part of her agenda this year and in her run for Governor next year. LINK HERE
Today APV President, Rhonda Hening lead a delegation of APV members and staff to the offices of both Virginia Senators Kaine and Warner to deliver a letter of protest and concern regarding the latest Trump scandal: the forced separation, caging and drugging of minors including infants seeking asylum with their families in the United States. We had spirited and frank discussions with staff and made clear our anger and indignation at this embarrassment of a man and the administration he runs.
Along with the APV Kaine Letter june 21 18 we made several specific asks of the Senators including paying a visit to now infamous detention center near Staunton where children were allegedly beaten and abused, and to Abby and her family who are now under sanctuary here in Richmond. Below are some of the points we stressed today.
- This policy was an attempt at blackmail designed to get Trump his wall, We ask that you do NOT cooperate.
- Oppose any strawman legislation that proports to end this practice, such legislation is unnecessary and only serves to confuse the public as to administration responsibility. As he proved on Wednesday this president always had the power to end this catastrophe with a pen stroke.
- Attend, support or participate in hearings that bring the appropriate department heads before you under oath and invoke Congressional oversite to investigate the origins of this “policy”. Hold human rights violators who have participated in implementing this administration’s plans accountable before the law.
- Join the call for the resignation of DHS Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen whose statements during this crisis indicate either incompetence, dishonesty or both.
- Sponsor a motion of censure for the president and members of the Trump cabinet who have knowingly lied about this new program in public while committing a clear human rights violation by implementing this new policy.
- Join our call for the break-up of ICE. The Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE is the product of the ill-advised conglomeration of various federal security agencies after 9-11. It has become a rogue, strongarm force for this administration and has lost the confidence of many Americans. It should be broken down to its constituent parts and demilitarized.
- Declare a moratorium on filling any more judgeships under this criminal and illegitimate administration until after the November elections, at the least.
Thank You! to the APV members and staff who took time out of their day to come out and make your selves heard.
APV Policy Director Scott Price represented our organization today at a press conference to announce the first public act of sanctuary granted by a religious denomination in Virginia for a family fleeing persecution and facing arrest and deportation here. Many thanks to the large, ecumenical cross section of religious leaders and the other organizations in this coalition who stood together today. Special thanks to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond who are providing physical sanctuary going forward. And lastly, thank you Abby and your family for allowing us to be a part of your lives. We are humbled by your courage.