In a letter sent to the Department of Justice today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. called on Attorney General Eric Holder to take immediate action to address the unjustified use of lethal and excessive force against unarmed African Americans by police forces throughout the country.
Read full letter here: 8-14-2014 Letter to AG Holder re use of excessive force by police.pdf
“The recent killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Ezell Ford, like the killings and beatings of other unarmed African Americans by police officers, are unconscionable,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “The depravity demonstrated by law enforcement in these recent events must be met with immediate reform.”
“Today we call upon the Department of Justice to undertake a comprehensive federal review of each instance of excessive police violence against African Americans,” Ifill said. “All involved officers and other public servants must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
In the letter, LDF acknowledges that criminal justice is mainly a locally controlled process, but noted: “When the integrity and transparency of local law enforcement is in question, federal authorities must step in and exercise their significant influence to maintain the public’s trust and confidence in the criminal justice system.”
In the letter, LDF calls on the DOJ to take four specific actions:
— undertake a comprehensive review of police-involved assaults and killings of unarmed individuals, with a focus on killings of unarmed African-Americans
— provide strong incentives for racial bias training and avoiding the use of force in the DOJ grant process;
— hold police officers accountable to the full extent of the law; and
— encourage the use of police officer body-worn cameras.
“Violent deaths like Michael Brown’s happen all too frequently and will continue to occur without meaningful accountability. The DOJ must utilize its substantial resources to take significant, proactive steps to curb police violence on communities of color. Transparency, accountability, oversight, and deterrence are critical elements in the effort to curtail police violence,” Ifill added.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. LDF’s victories established the foundations for the civil rights that all Americans enjoy today. In its first two decades, LDF undertook a coordinated legal assault against officially enforced public school segregation. This campaign culminated in Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1954, a unanimous decision overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine of legally sanctioned discrimination, widely known as Jim Crow.