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