Jun 19, 2020
House Briefing Transcript on Racism in Policing June 19
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a June 19 briefing on “an overdue reckoning with structural racism in policing.” Read the transcript here.
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Chairwoman Maloney: (00:00)
Good morning and thank you to everyone for being here for this important briefing. Black lives matter. I can’t breathe. Hands up, don’t shoot. No justice, no peace. These powerful phrases are rallying cries for fair minded Americans seeking to live up to one of this country’s core principles, equal justice under the law. Since our nation’s founding, African-Americans have struggled, fought, and died for the right to be free and equal citizens. This month marks 99 years since the Tulsa Race Massacre where an entire vibrant community was destroyed, and black men, women, and children were systemically murdered. Today is Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the freedom of black people in America. That freedom did not come until 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery. We are still working for freedom and we are still working to provide equal opportunity for all citizens in our country.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:18)
Our work is not done. The long list of names of black people unjustly brutalized by police shows that the fight for justice must continue. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others deserves so much more from their country. These heart wrenching murders have sparked protests across our country. There are just victims from the past few months that are just the ones we know about. How many other George Floyds and Breonna Taylors have there been? How many others have had their lives snuffed out without anyone but their grieving families protesting their deaths? The answer is undoubtedly too many. George Floyd’s murder was livestreamed, but his was not the first captured by fellow citizens on their cell phones.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:17)
In 2009, Oscar Grant’s murder by transit police in Oakland, California was also filmed on a cell phone. How many deaths could have been prevented if we had listened to the call from Mr. Grant’s family more than a decade ago? The national reckoning with systemic racism and policing is long overdue. We have known the truth of police brutality for years. We must not let this moment pass without sweeping reform. I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to embrace this moment and heed the calls of a mournful nation. If you believe that black lives matter, you will vote for the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. I now recognize ranking member Jordan for a brief moment and statement.
Chairwoman Maloney: (03:11)
Mr. Jordan, we cannot hear you. Mr. Jordan, are you with us? I’m speaking to the Republican staff. Is Mr. Jordan with us?
Rep. Jim Jordan: (03:53)
Hello? Can you hear me?
Chairwoman Maloney: (03:56)
Is that Mr. Jordan? We have a video, but no voice.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (03:59)
Madam Chair, I’m here.
Chairwoman Maloney: (04:02)
We can hear you now. We can hear you now. Thank you for joining us.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (04:05)
I could hear you the whole time and we’ve been online the whole time. Thank you, Madam Chair. We’ve had a hearing and a mock up in the judiciary committee. And each of those occasions, I talked about, I think, four principles which should guide us as we’re forming public policy and trying to address the concerns that are very real. First of all, the tragedy that took place in Minneapolis is just that, it’s something that never should have happened. It’s as wrong as wrong could be. And Mr. Floyd family deserve swift justice. And that applies to anyone, the individuals you talked about, as well as police officers who have lost their lives trying to protect people during the riots that were part of some of these protests around the country.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (04:57)
Second key point, I think, is there is a … Peaceful protest is part of the American experience and something we’ve all engaged in, part of our first amendment liberties. But there is a big difference, a big difference between peaceful protest and rioting, peaceful protest and looting, peaceful protest and the violence and attacks we’ve seen on law enforcement, and certainly a big difference between peaceful protest and forming these communities that we now see popping up in Seattle and Portland, CHAZ or CHOP or whatever the distinction is.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (05:29)
Third, and I think this is critically important, the vast majority, the vast majority of police officers do an outstanding job every single day. They put their lives on the line every single shift they serve protecting our communities. They’re the folks here on Capitol Hill who protect us each and every day that we’re here and serving the people of this great country. They’re the folks who rushed into the twin towers on 9/11. And we should keep that in mind as well when we’re thinking about any public policy decisions that we make.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (06:01)
And finally, and maybe most importantly, this policy proposal we are hearing from some of my Democrat colleagues and certainly from our big city mayors, this idea that we are going to defund the police may be the most insane public policy proposal I have ever seen. You’ve got the mayors of our largest … And the mayor of New York saying he’s going to cut a billion dollars out of the police budget. They’ve already gotten rid of they’re plain clothes, 600 members in their plain clothes unit. They disbanded that. You’ve got the mayor of LA, our second largest city, Mayor Garcetti, saying he’s going to reduce their budget by 250 million. And of course, in Minneapolis, you have a super majority of the city council, they’re not just going to defund the police, but they are going to disband the police department all together. And of course, as I mentioned, you’ve got this crazy situation in the city of Seattle where there’s a several block community where there is, frankly, no police presence and the police had to retreat.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (06:59)
So those four principles I think we need to keep in mind as we’re working on policy and working on addressing concerns that are very real. And I hope we will do that. We offered 12 amendments in the judiciary committee to the Democrat’s legislation just two days ago. Not one amendment, 12 thoughtful amendments, not one amendment was accepted by the Democrats. Again, I think pointing out that we’d like to work together, but I just don’t think that’s the sentiment from my colleagues on the other side. I hope that changes. And I hope that’s the attitude that we can have moving forward. With that, Madam Chair, I would yield back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (07:36)
Mr. Raskin is now recognized.
Chair Raskin: (07:41)
Madam Chair, thank you very much. Our late beloved Chairman, Elijah Cummings, would be so proud of you for convening this hearing to give us the opportunity to hear and to amplify the voices of the activists in the streets who have galvanized the conscience of America and given us the chance to repair the social contract broken by centuries of police violence against the black community in our country. Public opinion polls showed that three quarters of Americans support the protests, despite all the violent provocations of boogaloo and other right wing extremist groups determined to sabotage the magnificent nonviolence of the protesters. Americans overwhelmingly want change and reject the kind of murderous government violence embodied in officer Derek Chauvin’s excruciating eight minute and 46 second in position of torture and asphyxiation on the body of the handcuffed George Floyd, who was begging for his life.
Chair Raskin: (08:46)
Last week, I had the solemn duty to participate in the judiciary committee’s hearing on the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, which we passed out of committee Wednesday and I will be proud to vote for next week. At the hearing, we heard testimony from George Floyd’s brother, Philonise, which still rings in my years. “I am so tired,” he said. “I am tired of the pain. I am here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain in America.” It will be difficult to stop the kind of pain that’s already been inflicted at the hands of agents of your own government. But today, at least, we will provide an opportunity for the community to hear and understand the pain and exhaustion experienced by black communities across America, and to participate in advancing a comprehensive legislative reconstruction of policing in our country to prevent the further imposition of this kind of pain on more black families and bring some measure of justice and peace to the families that are still grieving today.
Chair Raskin: (09:42)
Federal action is badly needed because state and local governments have failed to effectively address the persistence of police brutality despite repeated movements and efforts at local reform. The whole point of civil government is that we will be safer and more secure inside the social contract than we’ll be outside the social contract, which Thomas Hobbes described as a state of nature and a state of war, nasty, solitary, brutish, and short. Where was the social contract for George Floyd? Where was the social contract for Breonna Taylor? Where was the social contract for 12-year-old Tamir Rice? Where is the social contract for millions of black Americans who live in fear of police officers whose salaries they pay? Put simply, for black Americans, the social contract has always been contaminated by racism and violent white supremacy, our nation’s original sin. The basic promise to provide safety and security rings hollow for too many communities ravaged by these episodes of police violence. A black American has more than double the chance of being killed by the police as a white American. And police encounters are a leading cause of death for young black men.
Chair Raskin: (10:54)
The problems of police brutality we confront today reflect the persistence of embedded structural racism in our country. Violent white supremacy is the real deep state that we must uproot and discard in America. Yes, my friends across the aisle who’ve been in search for it for several years now, racism is the real deep state in America. Violent white supremacy dominated our country for an entire century and the Supreme Court did nothing other than constitutionalize it in the infamous Dred Scott decision, which determined that an African- American has no rights the white man is bound to respect. And so we had a civil war and a reconstruction, our first opportunity to try to purge the violence of white supremacy. And it lasted for 12 years before it was washed away by the Ku Klux Klan and night riders and grandfather clauses, poll taxes, literacy tests, violent and nonviolent assault on the rights of African-Americans.
Chair Raskin: (11:57)
And it took another century where African-Americans had to live through Jim Crow, American apartheid, before we got another civil rights movement led by people like our colleague, John Lewis, and the blood sacrifice of Dr. King, and Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman, and Medgar Evers, and thousands of other people who suffered at the hands of the violence and racists. And we got the Voting Rights Act of ’65, we got the Civil Rights Act of ’64. And again, we’ve experienced a terrible rollback in decisions like Shelby County versus Holder and the appearance of presidents elected, not by a majority, but by the electoral college like Donald Trump who utter phrases like, “Finding very fine people” marching among racists and fascists and klansmen in the cities of America.
Chair Raskin: (12:43)
My friends, we conduct this briefing today on Juneteenth, our national commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. We celebrate freedom and emancipation. We should be working for a third and final reconstruction in America. Let’s finish the unfinished work from the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the reconstruction of the 1860s and 70s where I’m proud to say, in a bipartisan spirit, it was radical Republicans from Ohio who led America, who led America, like John Bingham and Josh Giddings, who led America in saying, “We must have interracial commitment to rebuilding America from the ground up, not on the basis of white supremacy, but on the basis of equality and justice for all.” I want to thank all of our witnesses today for being part of this great struggle. I yield back, Madam Chair.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (13:34)
Chairwoman Maloney: (13:39)
Speaker 1: (13:46)
Yeah, she’s muted.
Chairwoman Maloney: (13:56)
See, that’s why I wanted you to have it up for me. Okay. I now recognize Representative Pressley, who has been a leader on these issues and introduced one of the first police reform bills after Mr. Floyd’s death. Miss Pressley.
Rep. Pressley: (14:18)
Thank you, Chairwoman Maloney, for hosting this important briefing. Black America is in the midst of a crisis within a crisis within a crisis. A public health pandemic that has robbed us of more than 115,000 lives across our nation, disproportionately black lives, unveiling and reiterating the stark systemic inequities and disparities in our healthcare system. An economic crisis that has led to mass unemployment, evictions, and record levels of food insecurity. And the crisis of systemic racism in our policing system, a system rooted in this nation’s original sin of bondage and slavery, a system that for too long has perpetuated the criminalization, the profiling, and surveillance of black and brown bodies, and resulted in the lynching and murder of countless black people.
Rep. Pressley: (15:13)
And while the COVID-19 pandemic took this nation by storm, the only thing COVID-19 didn’t disrupt was racism. So in this moment of truth telling and this moment of reckoning, it is critical that we center the humanity and dignity of all people and ensure those closest to the pain are driving and informing the policymaking. As Baldwin reminds us, not all things that are faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. The fact of the matter is racism is not simply a point of view. It is not a point of view or the actions of a few bad apples. It is as structural as the marble pillars of this institution. The manmade discriminatory policies that have destroyed black lives and black families in this country were very precise. From the original sin of bondage to red lining to the failed war on drugs.
Rep. Pressley: (16:12)
So in this moment, we need our policy solutions to be just as specific and precise in legislating our healing and justice. The culmination of generations of hurt and trauma have led us to this moment. It is not enough to say black lives matter. Our policies and our budgets must value black lives. We must heed the calls of community and push forward policies that will provide much needed accountability and structural change. Righteous rage and the pursuit of justice has driven thousands to the streets in every state across our country. But let me be clear. There can be no justice for Oscar Grant, for Eric Garner, Michael Brown, or Tony McDade. There can be no justice for Breonna Taylor at Atatiana Jefferson, for Layleen Polanco, Natasha McKenna, Mya Hall, or Janisha Fonville. There can be no justice for Rayshard Brooks, Stephon Clark, Freddie Gray, or Terrence Coleman. For in a truly just world, they would all still be with us. There, however, must be accountability.
Rep. Pressley: (17:18)
This is personal. I am a Congresswoman. But first and foremost, I am a black woman married to a black man raising a black child. Today is Juneteenth and black folks still have yet to experience our full freedoms or true emancipation and liberation because that freedom really begins with a freedom from fear. I would like very much to pass along to our daughter, who will soon be 12, generational wisdom, wealth, joy, instead of generational fear and trauma. She already knows the unbearable pain of fearing for her life, for her father’s life, and for those she loves whenever we’re out of her sight.
Rep. Pressley: (18:15)
I know what it is to be surveyed, profiled, and threatened. And still, we rise. Generations from now, our grandchildren will look back and ask a simple question. When you had the opportunity to legislate with conviction, to summon the political courage to ensure that not another man is lynched in broad daylight, that not another woman is murdered in her own home, did you? So I thank our witnesses for joining us today, for lifting their voices, for holding us accountable, and for fighting to ensure that their loved one’s deaths were not in vain. Thank you and I yield.
Chairwoman Maloney: (19:01)
Thank you, Ayanna, for that meaningful statement. Is there any Republican who would like to be recognized for a statement? Another Republican member who would like to speak before we move to our presenters? Okay. I will now introduce our briefers. First we have Keturah Herron, a Policy Strategist for the ACLU of Kentucky. Next we have Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant and the Co-Founder of Families United 4 Justice. Next, we have Kimberle Crenshaw, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the African-American Policy Forum. Next, we have Marq Lewis, an activist with We The People Oklahoma. Next, we have Pastor Michael McBride, Director for the LIVE FREE Campaign. And last but not least, we have Don [Bongehee 00:20:03], host of the Bongehee Show. And with that, Ms. Herron, you are now recognized.
Keturah Herron: (20:12)
Greetings. My name is Keturah Herron and I’m a Policy Strategist at the ACLU of Kentucky and also a member of Black Lives Matter in Louisville. I want to thank you for inviting me to speak on this important issue of race, policing, policy, and justice. I come before you to ensure we lift up Breonna Taylor’s name and as we continue to fight for justice for her and other black people who have lost their lives to police brutality. We see protests across the country because enough is enough. During this time of the coronavirus, America and the world are put on pause, which forced people to stop and pay attention. For years, black people have been screaming and America has largely ignored us. I think the coronavirus coupled with the horrific death of George Floyd forced America to reflect.
Keturah Herron: (21:05)
For eight minutes and 46 seconds, the world watched as a black man begged for his life and called out to his deceased mother as he laid dying. This is not something that people can easily erase from their minds. No distraction could take this images in the video away. And it’s time for America to respond. When killings like those of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor happen, people will lend their voices from around the world. However, we understand that people and their attention spans are very fickle. There will be another story, the cameras will turn, the media attention will fade, and the people left in those communities that have been rocked by police brutality remain. They will be left to pick up the pieces. It is essential for people that live in these communities to know they can impact legislation on a local level to stop these senseless deaths from happening.
Keturah Herron: (22:04)
In Louisville, we took a first step with passing Breonna’s law, which bans the use of no knock warrants and quick knock warrants and requires all police involved in serving a warrant to wear body cameras. The law requires them to turn them on five minutes before serving a warrant and keep them on five minutes after the warrant is served. When Breonna’s Law passed, a huge TV was brought outside of the steps of City Hall so that citizens could watch the precedings. Folks were engaged because they understood their voice mattered and their voices were able to impact legislation on the local level. They learned it was the judges they elect and the representative they chose locally that would affect the laws that govern their day to day living.
Keturah Herron: (22:48)
Now, people are engaging differently in different arenas. People are organizing around a more just budget, and others are closely monitoring the collective bargaining agreement between the Fraternal Order of Police and our local government. When organizing with people who have existed in a survival mentality for years due to systematic racism, it is difficult to get them interested in local politics. The truth is it is difficult to get anyone interested in local politics. Many people are simply trying to make it from day to day. As we organize, we are also educating people on how it is not just things that are done at a federal level, but also at a local and state level, that would impact their lives. Many just do not fully understand how the political system works. Many people will go out to vote for a President …
Keturah Herron: (24:07)
Speaker 1: (24:08)
Madam Chair, I think we’ve lost the strategist.
Chairwoman Maloney: (24:10)
Okay. Then we will go back to her possibly. But Mr. Johnson, you are now recognized. Mr. Johnson.
Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson: (24:21)
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and ranking member US Representative Jim Jordan and members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. I bring you greetings on behalf of our executive team, impacted family members and community members of the National Families United 4 Justice Network. My name is Cephus Johnson, also known as Uncle Bobby, uncle of Oscar Grant. Oscar is the son of my youngest sister, Wanda Johnson. I am the Co-Founder of Love Not Blood Campaign, Co-Founder of Families United 4 Justice, National, Founder of California Families United 4 Justice Network, and founder of the Oscar Grant Foundation, which is now led by my sister, Oscar’s mother, Wanda Johnson.
Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson: (25:08)
I have been advocating for police accountability and transparency for 11 years, since the murder of my nephew Oscar Grant on January 1st, 2009, early New Years morning at the Fruitvale BART station. It is an honor for Families United 4 Justice to provide written testimony on the topic of structural racism and policing. On this extremely important Juneteenth day, Families United 4 Justice joins the nation in condemning the policing tactics, actions, and inactions that led to the death of Mr. George Floyd. We are extremely hurt and we grieve with the nation at the horrendous killing of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and now Rayshard Brooks. These names represents just a few in a much longer list of tragedies impacting communities of color. We offer our deepest condolences and prayers for these families.
Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson: (26:05)
There is no horror comparable to watching your loved one be murdered. That horror is forever etched in your memory. Perhaps because it could have been prevented. The power of the police to use deadly force is the most significant responsibility we give to any public official. And that responsibility must be guided by the goals of safeguarding human life and protecting human rights. Current law results in officers killing civilians far more often than is necessary, leaving many families and communities devastated and the public less safe. These tragedies disproportionately impact communities of color.
Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson: (26:48)
The senseless murder of George Floyd has gained attention around the world. People from every walk of life are protesting that justice be fair, transparent, and equal. It is important that the officers involved be prosecuted. It is impacted families’ belief that accountability and transparency is the key to building trust between policing agencies and the community. Family United 4 Justice Networks are fully aware that addressing issues within the local policing agency is an exceedingly small part of a larger, more complex [inaudible 00:27:25] comprising the policing culture. The culture of policing originated from the paddy rollers, slave patrols organized by groups of armed white men who monitored and enforced discipline upon black slaves. I’d like to share with you what we as an impacted family feel must be addressed.
Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson: (27:44)
We strongly recommend a national use of force policy included in state and local policing agency standards, mandatory deescalation requirement for all officers, and policies that require the use of deescalation tactic as a priority, prohibition of all physical restraint maneuvers on or above the neck, no choke holds. Police qualified immunity should be removed. Under federal law, police officers [inaudible 00:28:13] civilians constitutional rights can be sued in federal court, but the qualified immunity [inaudible 00:28:21] from such suits unless their action violates clearly established law. A federal data collection of use of force data, traffic stops, pedestrian stops, and detention data of all demographics. A national database and officers with patterns of misconduct. We wholeheartedly support the passing of the Justice and Policing Act, which specifically addresses the loopholes that continue to allow policing tragedies free of oversight and accountability and an environment that fosters racial tension.
Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson: (28:56)
Mandatory requirements that all officers render immediate medical aid to any person experiencing a health crisis, whether in custody or not. Mandatory requirement that officers intervene where physical force is being applied to either stop or attempt to stop another officer when force is being inappropriately used, mandatory law enforcement accreditation as a national requirement, provide the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department enforcement with oversight of those patterns and practices of discrimination. In closing, on behalf of impacted families, I thank you for allowing our words to be heard. Today at this crucial time in our history, impacted families appeal to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to pass legislation that provide national guidelines to reform the system of policing, to hold police officers accountable, and to snuff out that sick paddy roller culture that has thrived in the belly of the policing since it’s beginning. As a black man, I can unequivocally attest to the perpetual existence of discriminatory practice that remain-
Cephus Johnson: (30:03)
Due to perpetual existence of discriminatory practice that remains a haunting reality for people of color throughout this nation. It is critical that we first acknowledge the present need for a national legislative approach to local policing agency change and urgently began the process of re-imaging today’s policing culture and enlisting those who value the sanctity of life and the protection of human rights. Again, let us at Families United for Justice thank you, Ms. Chairwoman.
Chairwoman Maloney: (30:36)
Thank you. We have Ms. Herron back, so Ms. Herron, you are now recognized.
Keturah Herron: (30:42)
Hi. Thank you. I’ll just finish toward the end of my testimony. There’s always talk about when our federal government should step in and when we should leave things to the state and locals jurisdictions. It is always the time to do what is right. And I believe now is the time for our federal government to take action and prohibit police policies and practices that brutalize communities. Today, this body should make it your duty and priority to ban no knock warrants, ensure police officers don’t get special protection when they engage in misconduct or use of excessive force.
Keturah Herron: (31:19)
Police who swear an oath to protect and serve should be held to an higher standard. We should draft policy to ensure police have a duty to intervene when they witness their colleagues brutalizing someone. We need to end the 1033 program, which militarizes our police, and stop attacking peaceful protesters with tear gas and other tools and tactics which are used in war zones. Ultimately, we must reimagine public safety. We must divest in policing and incarceration and invest in systems that provide equal access to housing, education, healthcare, safety, and opportunity. Thank you for allowing me to speak today. And I’ll also encourage you all to read my fulls testimony, which should be provided for you. Thank you for your time.
Chairwoman Maloney: (32:13)
Thank you. Professor Crenshaw, you are now recognized.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (32:19)
Maloney, Ranking Member Jordan, and members of the committee. I’m Kimberle Crenshaw, executive director of the African American Policy Forum, professor of law at UCLA, and faculty director of the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School. I am especially honored to be here on this Juneteenth. on Wednesday, June 17th, 2020, AAPF and CISPS hosted a webinar on the stories of African Americans killed by police. For two hours, we bore witness to the stories that revealed the individual and institutional contours of the problem, transcending the frame of a few bad apples. They told us about how the war on drugs, racial profiling, paramilitary policing, permissive lethal force, implicit and explicit biases, police-sourced solutions to mental health and other social problems all lead to disproportionate Black death.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (33:19)
They talked about how the impunity with which too many police officers act, remains insulated by qualified immunity and by special protections that help them escape accountability. And we talked about how the last words uttered by dying Black people must guide our resolve to transform American policing. Words like, I can’t breathe, you promise not to kill me, or simply and heartbreakingly, mama. By now, I’m sure that from the stories you’ve heard, the news you’ve read, the pleas for justice you’ve seen, you match these stories to the names you know: eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, and George Floyd. But the African Americans that we talked about this week were not those you might think.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (34:09)
They were Black women. Michelle Cusseaux, India Kager, Kayla Moore, Shelley Frey, Korryn Gaines, and Sandra Bland, Black women and girls as young as seven and as old as 93 have been killed by police. They’ve been shot, choked, body slammed, and tasered to death for driving while Black, having mental disabilities while Black, shopping while Black, being homeless while Black, sleeping while Black, defending their homes while Black, and asserting their rights while Black. India Kager was a Navy veteran who was killed when Virginia Beach SWAT team fired 50 rounds into her car, knowing that she and her four month old son had done absolutely nothing wrong. Natasha McKenna was five foot, three inch Black woman strapped nude to a restraining chair by a half dozen officers in hazmat gear. They tasered her four times while hooded and handcuffed. It was Natasha who uttered the words that should haunt us all, “You promise not to kill me.”
Kimberle Crenshaw: (35:12)
Tragic stories like India’s and Natasha’s are amplified by images of Black women and girls being abused by law enforcement, girls being thrown and beaten, a woman being hogtied and dragged, a disabled and elderly Black woman paraded nude in police precinct. Police violence against Black women is very real. It’s visceral. It’s dehumanizing. Yet in this discourse, it’s relatively invisible. Now we know where a problem isn’t fully seen, it can’t be fully solved. That’s why the structural and intersectional dimensions of police violence can not be overlooked. In 2014, we at AAPF began Say Her Name to elevate the fact that Black women are not exempt from police violence. In fact, a study found that Black women were the only race gender group to have a majority of its members unarmed when killed. This means that among women killed by police, Blackness may be a greater risk factor than being armed. Black women’s stories underscore and expand the current conversation about police reform.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (36:18)
The deaths of Black women like Tanisha Anderson, and Kayla Moore, and Michelle Cusseaux in mental health situations, amplify the need to rethink both the role of police as first responders, as well as the overused claims that use of force was reasonable or necessary. The deaths of Breonna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson underscore that unless no knock warrants are eliminated and deescalation mandates are required, there’s no escaping the disproportionate risk, even in the sanctity of our own homes, that we might die. The death of Korryn Gaines after escalation over traffic tickets, points to the need to minimize police involvement in minor offenses. And the death of Sandra Bland shows dynamics that reflect the possibility of bias, uniquely prompted by both race and gender is real. So the sort of largely unregulated discretion that initiates encounters with police, facilitated by a wildly permissive fourth amendment, enhances the risk of other kinds of abuse, like sexual abuse, that Cato Institute found that it was the second most common complaint against police. AAPF and CISPS support the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act as an important first step.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (37:37)
We call further for a fully intersectional approach to activities under the act, including desegregating race, gender, and other factors, and assessing institutional and individual bias in developing training programs and officer civilian protocols, and in creating alternatives to law enforcement activities. I want to end with two quotes from the 19th century that shaped the polar possibilities of this moment. In 1857, Chief Justice Taney famously wrote that, “From our founding, Black men were so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” And speaking in 1896, the Black feminist orator, Anna Julia Cooper wrote, “Only the Black woman can say when and where I enter without violence. Then and there, the whole race enters with me.” In this democracy. It is up to Congress to lead the way in ensuring that when it comes to life, liberty, and freedom from police abuse, Justice Taney will finally be made dead wrong, and that Anna Julia Cooper will stand fully in the right. Thank you.
Chairwoman Maloney: (38:54)
Mr. Lewis, you are now recognized.
Marc Lewis: (38:56)
Thank you, Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, Ranking Member Jordan, and distinguished committee members. I’m grateful for the invitation and the opportunity to speak with you today, and share our community concerns regarding abusive policing practices and the immense need to reform. My name is Marq Lewis. I’m a community organizer and founder of We the People of Oklahoma. Our organization has been instrumental in getting necessarily changes made in our local police department, including impaneling a grand jury for the former Tulsa County sheriff. Those indictments led to convictions and removal of officers who were negatively impacting the community. Today, I would like to discuss policy changes, decertification, and racial disparity. In 2016, an officer involved shooting, which ended the life of Terence Crutcher, showed just how slanted the policies are to protect officers from facing criminal indictments. The officer in question was not given drug or alcohol tests after the shooting. The officer was allowed to review the video of the shooting, making a statement, and the officer was not interviewed for three days immediately after the shooting. Nor did the officer render aid to Mr. Crutcher, even though she was trained and registered as an EMT.
Marc Lewis: (40:24)
We do not know the suspect. We may know the suspect’s victims. We may know the suspect’s criminal history and what could possibly have impaired that particular person. Yet we have little information to know what could have impaired that officer. This is common across officer related shootings. I submit that each officer who disdarts their weapon firearm should have a mandatory, immediate blood and alcohol test, along with psychological evaluation. This will help the departments to avoid broking officers back in the field. There must be specific federal definition of excessive force. It should not be left up to the jury to determine what a reasonable law officer should do in various situations. We must have a federal standard that red flags an officer for use of force and excessive force complaints. Officer Chauvin, who now is charged with the murder of George Floyd, had dozens of complaints in his 19 career. And 16 of those were closed without disciplinary action.
Marc Lewis: (41:54)
Kepler, who was convicted of killing an unarmed African American man, Jeremey Lake, has not been decertified. Bob Bates, who was convicted of killing an unarmed African American man, Eric Harris, has not been decertified. Most recently in Tulsa, a former detention officer who’s had a history of racial bias and use of force claims, he was able to become a security guard. And he just shot and killed an unarmed Black man. Had any of these officers decertified, would have been possible that they will not inflict any death or trauma they have caused. Governor Charles Baker of Massachusetts has proposed a bill that would be certified officers who fail to live up to their oath by falsifying evidence, make false arrests, or if they’re convicted of crimes. This should be the national standard. Currently, the process of decertification is up to the licensing board in each state. Therefore, a federal database of negligent and destructive law enforcement officers need to be created to weed out those and should be decertified.
Marc Lewis: (43:05)
Obviously, racial disparities play a part in abusive policing practices and training. In Oklahoma officers are required to have 70 hours of firearm training and 69 hours of custody and physical control training. Yet they only are required to have nine hours of community relations training and four hours of mental health training. According to the Tulsa World, African Americans are arrested twice as much than any other group, and they make up 15% of their population. They’re also overrepresented and has longer stays in custody for lower level crimes. In the nation, the largest racial disparity in jail admissions were at the lowest level, municipal offenses. Black women were admitted to jail on municipal charges 3.5 times the rate of white women. And Black women and Black men at 3.8 times the rate of white men. This is according to the Vera Institute. From over- policing in Black neighborhoods, gang taskforce units that target minority areas and recruitment of young teens with minor infractions, into becoming confidential informants. Racial disparity and biases are used daily to intimidate and traumatize people of color.
Marc Lewis: (44:18)
In my conclusion, in order to reduce the abuses in law enforcement, we must root out racial biases, increase community based training, decertify officers for excessive force, and other negative behaviors. And create a federal standard that is rooted in justice. Our people have suffered at the hands of road officers. Now is the time to bring about these changes so that our children can grow up in an America where they do not have to fear the person who took an oath. A mother and father should not hear the words coming from their children, am I next? The power we all have, is a voice. And with that voice, we must never be silent until we are all free. Thank you.
Chairwoman Maloney: (45:10)
Thank you, Mr. Lewis. We will now recognize Mr. McBride, pastor McBride.
Michael McBride: (45:18)
To Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Jordan, and all the members of this committee, on behalf of all of my freedom fighting friends and comrades, as well as the victims and survivors of state violence I am in relationship with, I thank you for the invitation to testify. My name is Michael McBride. I am a father, a husband, a minister. A little over 20 years ago, March 9th, 1999, I was physically and sexually assaulted by San Jose police officers. I was a student out of Bible college, living with my pastor and his family. But that night the police could not see my humanity. While returning home from visiting family, I was racially profiled. My groin and testicles were squeezed and groped. Officers ran their hands through my underwear claiming to look for weapons they would never find. I was brutally thrown to the ground with knees in my back and guns pointed at me. And my arm was feeling like it was on the verge of snapping in two.
Michael McBride: (46:12)
Verbal assaults and obscenities were hurled at me with no provocation. That evening, these men, I did not know tried to crush my dignity. They left marks on my body and trauma in my spirit that persists even to this day. I am glad I did not die that night. While their guns were trained on me, there were moments I thought I would die. I felt so unprotected. I felt so disposable. These last 20 years of activism and practice is the fruit that has emerged from the soil of that horrific night. And for so many of us who have had our humanity degraded, our bodies mishandled, our most sacred parts violently abused under the guise of the law, there is a pain that never leaves us, a shame and anger that never subsides. There are ever present questions that echo in our minds. Why did this happen to me?
Michael McBride: (47:03)
And why was no one held responsible? And many of us who show up in the streets to protests arrived with scarred bodies and unresolved traumas, still mourning and enraged that in almost every case, the very person who harmed us is still hired as a police officer in our communities with no accountability, or worse still, no remorse. Our protest then becomes a cathartic relief and it is righteous and sacred. But it is not enough. Our country must do the hard but necessary work to uncouple itself from a 300 year long legacy of anti-Black racism and violence that has become essentialized in the system of policing at work today. And on this Juneteenth day, when we memorialize the news of emancipation arriving to the enslaved Africans in Texas, how could we ask for anything less than freedom from this system of policing? This is what abolition points to.
Michael McBride: (48:01)
When many of us say abolish the police, we are not saying abolish public safety. Far from it. We are saying, let’s formerly bring to an end this current form of policing, a system all too willing to sacrifice dark-skinned bodies, native bodies, trans bodies, women’s bodies, male bodies on an alter of a false sense of safety. Now, reasonable people can debate the particulars of the how we achieve public safety, but all of us should agree, this system of policing cannot continue at the cost of Black lives and Black safety and security. The good news is we need not sacrifice public safety to end this system of policing. Neither must we start from scratch to reimagine a 21st century public safety system. For the past 20 years, I’ve been immersed in the work of public safety at the intersection of ending gun violence and mass incarceration. My journey as a survivor, a faith leader, a practitioner, organizer, and national leader have taught me that victims and perpetrators in urban communities are often the very same people. Their networks of violence are largely concentrated and over-policed. Here is some evidence, with respect to violent crime research from the Prison Policy Initiative tells us that only 5% of all arrests are for violent crimes. Our experience reinforced that less than half of 1% of a city’s population drives as much as 60% of gun-related shootings and homicides. We have the strategies to save lives. We must scale them up. Shrinking the footprint of policing in our cities for the sole purposes of reinvesting these tax dollars, improving community-based safety and intervention programs, is a recipe for success and not failure. Can you imagine how different our communities and country would’ve looked if we unleashed hundreds of thousands of public health nurses, addiction counselors, and healers in the 1980s and ’90s, rather than more cops. We can still right that wrong today.
Michael McBride: (50:09)
As I close, I know many members of Congress are uncomfortable with the language of defund the police, as it has been defined by many as a zero sum game. May I suggest we think of this very differently, because after decades of over-investment in failed systems, all the people are asking for is a refund. Refund our tax dollars so we can put it into schools. Refund our tax dollars so we can hire public health violence interrupters. Refund our tax dollars so we can hire mental health workers and healers in our schools. Refund our tax dollars so we can prioritize housing the homeless and feeding the hungry. The fierce urgency of now compels me to ask, how much longer will you ask us to wait for progress?
Michael McBride: (50:53)
What is at stake are not merely budgets or politics. It is dignity, life, our sense of belonging to one another, our shared humanity. In this moment, courage fused with imagination can usher in what Shirley Chisholm declared a bloodless revolution. One that brings to an end, centuries of uninterrupted trauma visited upon the bodies, the spirit, and the souls of Black Americans. May our progeny look back on our times and say, to paraphrase Langston Hughes, “These are the days when America became America.” For the many who have never had America be America for them, may we launch this third reconstruction and change the system of policing for Black Americans, and all Americans in this country. God bless you. Thank you.
Chair Raskin: (51:43)
Thank you very much, Reverend McBride. Chairman Maloney’s system is down. Unfortunately, there is an area spectrum outage in her neighborhood. So I’m going to recognize Mr. Bongino now for his five minutes of testimony.
Dan Bongino: (51:59)
Thank you, Congressman Raskin and Ranking Member Jordan. I appreciate the opportunity to address your committee on this critical issue. The death of George Floyd was incredibly difficult to watch for all of us. None of us will ever forget that video. It was a moment of sincere national unity and outrage. Tragically, that moment’s being sabotaged in an effort to impugn the integrity and heroism of the men and women who stand on the front lines right now between civilization and mayhem, our police officers. Yes we can, and we should, focus on improving our police departments. It’s critical. It’s the right thing to do. Our police officers do have enormous power. They have the power to take away freedom, and in some difficult cases, life. But defunding the police is unquestionably the road to destruction.
Dan Bongino: (52:51)
Policing is a stressful, and at times emotionally overwhelming job. Nowhere, the position outside of our military, asks so much of men and women. No one on this panel is currently being asked to meet and interact with people at the worst and potentially most perilous moments of their lives for eight hours a day, potentially seven days a week. No one on this panel. It’s devastating. It takes an emotional toll on our brave police officers, the men and women in blue. An emotional toll that thankfully, few will ever know. Having said that, police officers can have bad days. We can and we should do better. But this national debate is more from a conversation about improving the quality of policing to defunding them and painting them with grotesquely offensive labels, such as systemically racist. Well, I ask, what system are you referring to? It’s a fair question. Is it not? Many of the political figures lobbying this charge are the system. If you believe in a system, this is a fair question, is it not?
Dan Bongino: (53:57)
And the system they are a part of, in many of these cases, has been monopolistically run by Democrats for decades, ignoring this reality while insinuating that the good police officers who work within it are willingly compliant with a racist system, is really tragic. I proudly served in the 75 precinct in a largely minority precinct in East New York, Brooklyn. And the police officers I worked with always reported for duty, looking to assist the people in that neighborhood, who again were largely minority, Black and Hispanic. I’ll say in closing, father’s day is approaching. And while some with perverse motors, are using our police officers as political footballs in this destructive game, I humbly ask you to think about the many families across the country that’ll wake up on father’s day, staring at nothing more than a picture of a police officer father they once hugged, a photo of a police officer lost in the line of duty will never, never take the place of an embrace. Think about that as you choose your words when referring to the finest men and women I’ve ever had the honor to work with. Thanks for your time.
Chairwoman Maloney: (55:11)
Thank you. Thank you. I now recognize Representative Presley for five minutes for questions.
Rep. Pressley: (55:20)
Thank you all for being here. Again, the people closest to the pain should be the closest to the power, driving and informing the policymaking. And we’re so grateful that you are lending your expertise to this moment. And Mr. Johnson, I want to extend my deepest condolences for the loss of your nephew, Oscar. You are the member of a tragic club. I’m grateful that you join us today. Many Black women and mothers, surviving family members, have had to relive the trauma of seeing their loved ones murdered and livestreamed on national television.
Rep. Pressley: (56:01)
The mothers of the movement have been trying to tell us for generations, from Mrs. Till to Lucy McBath, to stop murdering our children. We must listen. We must center these experiences in this moment of truth telling and reckoning. And while Juneteenth is meant to be a day of celebration and of freedom and emancipation. Again, we must take stock of this moment and be sobered about the work that lies ahead. Mr. Crenshaw, is it fair to say that the policing system in our nation grew out of the practice of capturing and often murdering individuals trying to escape from slavery? Could you speak to the history of our policing system and how you see that influencing modern day policing?
Kimberle Crenshaw: (56:46)
Thank you, Congresswoman Pressley. Indeed. One of the historical dimensions of policing, that is in many of these conversations overlooked and undervalued, is the fact that our policing system was grounded in the notion of paddy rollers. Effectively, those who would ride the plantations to use coercive dimensions to secure the safety of plantation owners and others who weren’t subject, themselves, to slavery. More broadly, one has to understand that when we talk about policing as a way of enforcing the order, one has to understand what the order was initially based on. When African Americans were able to escape, when they were captured, if they were, what they were charged with was theft. They were stealing themselves. So the very system of law that backs up a racist economic system, is the thing that police were reinforcing and securing against what would otherwise be seen as self-help.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (57:58)
Freeing oneself against a baseline of freedom doesn’t look like theft. It looks like freedom. So the long history of policing tied together with an existing system of deep racial inequality has been so close that policing doesn’t really ever get that far away from that history. So that’s why it’s important, in this moment, that we historicize this problem, that we see how it comes up again and again and again, and that we have an understanding of why so many African Americans are experiencing this moment as basically, being captured and taken back to a past in the same way runaways were captured and taken back to slavery. That’s what this moment is really about. And that’s why we need a much more fundamental structural solution to the problem of race and policing.
Cephus Johnson: (58:54)
Thank you. Thank you for that historical contextualizing. Ms. Herron, could you speak to specifically, how has qualified immunity contribute to the culture of impunity among police officers?
Keturah Herron: (59:05)
Yes. I think that one of the things that we are seeing and one thing that I’ve been explaining is, if you’re working at a place like Kroger or if you have your own business, and you identify a bad employee, you identify someone who is taking money out of the cash register on a daily basis or not coming back from their break, or a no call or no show, there’s things that you put in place to say, this person is bad for our business and we need to get rid of them. And I think that what we’re seeing locally here in Louisville, Kentucky, and across the nation, is that the police have so many protections around them, that when we identify that there is a bad police officer, there is no way to get rid of them. And so I think that the thing that needs to be known and said is that we know that they are some good police officers out there. However, we know that the structure of policing has not been favorable to Black bodies.
Keturah Herron: (01:00:03)
… nature policing is not been favorable to black bodies and the policies in which they operate under have not been favorable to black bodies and communities. So what we want to do, and what we need to see is that when Departments or even families recognize that a Police Officer is starting to engage in those behaviors that makes them not a good employee, that we have to have ways to get rid of them. That’s not only for the safety of the Police Officers and their families, as we know that there’s a lot of domestic violence that goes on within those households, but also to protect the communities. That’s what public safety is. When folks were talking about divesting and defunding the Police, that’s what we’re talking about, is how do we get rid of those bad Police Officers to make sure that the structure of policing is fair and equitable for everyone.
Rep. Pressley: (01:00:58)
Thank you. And I’ll just, I mean, there can be no justice without accountability, so I appreciate your offering that context. Doctors can be sued for malpractice, lawyers for negligence and so on. So, no one is above the law. Policing should be no exception. My colleague, Representative Amash and I, we have introduced the End Qualified Immunity Act, which would eliminate fundamentally the flawed qualified immunity doctrine and allow Americans to seek justice when their civil rights are violated. I hope my colleagues will support that.
Rep. Pressley: (01:01:29)
Ms. Crenshaw, you coined the term intersectionality, and it speaks to the reality that our destinies are tied and that we must center and uplift the most marginalized in our policymaking in order to realize equitable outcomes, to center those at the intersection of multiple forms of structural and interpersonal oppression. I just wanted to yield the floor to you for you to educate those on the term who might be unfamiliar.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (01:01:56)
Thank you, Congresswoman. Intersectionality is basically a concept that allows us to see that problems in inequality are often not single issue problems. When we’re looking at the Police violence issue that I was talking about earlier, it’s often not just a matter of race. It’s a matter of race in conjunction with class, in conjunction with gender, in conjunction with gender identity. So intersectionality tells us, as the framework that we have to look at all the different ways that vulnerability is structured into our society. It’s not about the body itself. It’s about how the body is situated in our society, in various social structures. So for example, some of the women that we lift up are those who had mental health crises, but they were also African American or they were African American and trans, and all of these things come together to shape how the Officers interacted with those bodies.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (01:03:02)
So intersectionality says we need interventions and understanding of the problem. Look at all the systems that come together to create the vulnerability. No single issue or single prism frame is going to solve the multiple ways that we’re seeing vulnerability to state sanctioned violence.
Rep. Pressley: (01:03:22)
That’s right. Thank you. And thank you so much. And finally, Mr. Johnson, I want us to bring Oscar into this space. Tragically, when we are robbed of a life, someone in this manner, much of the public only gets to know them for the way in which they were killed, but I want the American people to know who your nephew was. So, in the final seconds of my line of questioning, would you just share a little bit with us about your nephew and the kind of young man he was?
Cephus Johnson: (01:03:47)
Most definitely. But right before I go into Oscar, I did want to share our executive team, love ones who were killed most people don’t know about, Marlin Brown out of DeLand, Florida. Andrew Joseph, 14 years old out of Tampa, Florida. Nathaniel Pickett Barstow, California. Michael Brown, we all know, was a part of our team, Ferguson, Missouri. Corey Jones, West Palm Beach, Florida. And I could go on with the others, but I’ll talk about Oscar, yes.
Cephus Johnson: (01:04:21)
For those who don’t know, Oscar again was murdered on January 1st, 2009 at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland, California, Ryan Coogler, a young 22 year old man who also felt that [inaudible 01:04:38] Fruitvale Station. Oscar was beloved by his family. Definitely his daughter talked me out of what at the time was four years old when he was murdered, and his dad had promised her, he was going to take her to Chucky Cheese the next day, but never made it home. He was loved by his friends and his community, his high school. He had a whole host of friends as witness on the platform that watched him get murdered. He was my first nephew, so I had a very special love because I was an uncle and we had a good relationship with my son, who enjoyed each other.
Cephus Johnson: (01:05:18)
So I had an opportunity to watch him grow up, spent a lot of time with him, and was deeply hurt witnessing what happened to him on video. I think the world should know that in the 21st six Oscar really is like the Emmett Till of the Civil Rights movement, but Oscar of the Black Lives Matter movement, because at least the [inaudible 01:05:40] colors were all basically opening when Oscar was murdered. Between Oscar and 2012 there were 3000 bodies killed by the Police that we seem to all have forgot about. So we can’t minimize the impact of this violence.
Cephus Johnson: (01:05:58)
I mean, alone, since Oscar’s death, over 12,000 civilians, black folks, white folks, brown folks has been killed by this heinous act of Police violence. Now we know there’s good Officers, but we say good Officers that don’t tell on the bad Officers are just as culpable. So we felt legislation must be put in place to encourage them to become responsible Policemen within the agency to ensure that bad Police Officers are removed and held accountable for their murders. But yes, Oscar was loved by his mama. He was loved by his grandmother. He was loved by all of us in the community that witnessed what happened to him. That was Oscar Grant. He was the catalyst of the movement we see happening today.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:06:52)
The gentle lady’s time has expired. Now Mr. Hice is recognized for five minutes or full time.
Rep. Hice: (01:07:01)
Thank you, Chairwoman. I appreciate it a great deal. We are now in an hour and 15 minutes into this time together, and this remote concept is not working. It’s time for us to get back to Washington and do what we are called upon to do, and I would just like to put that out. Secondly, Madam Chairwoman, I would just like to say, this is yet another fake hearing under the guise of a briefing where, yet again, the minority party is disproportionately not allowed to have a voice and have witnesses in a proportionate manner. Not to take anything away from the witnesses we’ve had. Their testimonies have been powerful. I’ve enjoyed them, but yet again, we only have one witness and I would just ask the chairwoman in future to learn who our witness is, who we have today is not Doug Bob Gatey or whatever you said. It is Dan Bongino, and we are honored to have him here with us.
Rep. Hice: (01:08:03)
In light of that, I would also like to say, I am grateful to participate in a briefing that is addressing a serious problem. No question, black lives do matter. They matter enormously, and I’ll do everything I can to help in that cause to defend and protect black lives. It’s my hope that at some point we would expand our briefings or hearings to include violence in places like Chicago, that over Memorial day weekend alone had 10 African American lives lost. This past weekend, 80 Chicagoians were shot by drive by shootings. There were 21 fatalities, overwhelmingly within the black community. That needs to be addressed.
Rep. Hice: (01:08:56)
I hope we’ll also one day look at the black baby’s lives that matter, where again, disproportionately black babies are being aborted. 14% of women of childbearing age are black, but 36% of abortions are in the African American community. 471 abortions per 1000 live births. I hope we will look at that as well at some point in the future. All that to be said, Mr. Bongino, thank you for joining us. I’m sure you recently saw the shooting of Rashard Brooks in the Atlanta Police Department by Officer Garrett Rolfe.
Rep. Hice: (01:09:41)
One thing that I wanted to bring up to you, Fulton County DA Paul Howard actually said that Brooks pointing the taser at the Officer did not constitute a death threat, and yet just one week before he made that statement, he charged six Atlanta Officers with inappropriate use of a taser as a deadly force. Now I’m not trying to adjudicate one way or the other the circumstances of this case. My concern, however, is the confusion that so many of our judicial Departments are creating with a double standard where a taser in this case is a deadly weapon in one case and not in another, how important is it that we get these policies, these rules clearly defined so that our Officers are enabled to do the work that they are called upon to do.
Dan Bongino: (01:10:41)
Well, it’s critical, Congressman. Thanks for the opportunity to speak on this. If we’re not willing to have a legitimate, fact-based conversation about what constitutes reasonable use of force standards, then what’s the point? If just a few weeks ago, as you indicated, I’m not attacking Mr. Howard personally, it’s his own words. You can look it up on YouTube or anyone else. Just a few weeks ago, he quoted Georgia law and clearly said a taser’s a deadly weapon. Anyone watching this hearing is free to watch it themselves. It’s not my words. They’re his. Yet two weeks later he indicates that a taser pointed at close range, near point blank range, by an untrained person, by the way, Mr. Brooks … His death is tragic, nonetheless, I don’t wish death or harm on anyone, to be crystal clear on that.
Dan Bongino: (01:11:25)
But having said that, stealing a Police Officer’s taser weapon after punching him in the face, attacking him and his partner, running away and fleeing into a crowded parking lot with said weapon, and then turning and pointing it at close range at the face of a Police Officer where the barbs could penetrate eyeballs and potentially the skull, how you would indicate that that is not deadly force is absurd. You can argue the use of force. Fine. That’s why we’re here. Fair. Police have the power to take a life. That is a power even the present United States doesn’t have, and every incident should be looked at. But having said that, the GBI hadn’t even finished their investigation yet. That’s not due process either. This is a deadly weapon. There’s no question about it. In the hands of someone untrained who just assaulted you it’s a very deadly weapon.
Rep. Hice: (01:12:16)
Let me ask you this too, because I think that’s a great point and powerfully stated, but it looks to me like we also have another problem besides the double standard and judicial clarification of what’s a deadly weapon, but the Police unions themselves appear to me to be problematic in that they protect some bad actors. It was brought up in one of the witnesses earlier about the Officer Derek Chauvin. I mean, he had had multiple complaints, perhaps a couple of dozen complaints, and yet he was protected by the unions, I’m assuming that’s the ones protecting him, the Police unions. We find a lot of times even Officers where it’s difficult to fire them. It’s difficult with the unions to remove these bad actors, and many times, even if they are removed, many of them are reinstated. How serious of an issue do you think these unions are, and what do we do about it?
Dan Bongino: (01:13:18)
No, it’s very serious. And some of the panelists who’ve spoken have had some powerful comments on that. I don’t instinctively disagree with everyone because I take different political positions on some. The unions, the good and the bad of the unions. The bad quickly is obviously there are times that are bad Officers, really bad Officers. In this case, in the case of Mr. Floyd, resulted in the death of Mr. Floyd in that horrific video, I think we’ve all seen one too many times, hard to watch.
Dan Bongino: (01:13:42)
If he was in any way protected by the union, then yes, it’s beyond time for serious reform. Having said that, I would not recommend that … they’re not efficiently unions because [inaudible 01:13:52] especially in the big cities, but benevolent associations, whatever you want to call them. There are times they protect the public too. In a fair discussion, we should be open to facts. I remember when there was an informal quota system, policing for profit in New York city when I was a Police Officer, and the people who spoke out against that because they were being forced essentially to harass the citizens of the minority neighborhoods I worked in, were are the benevolent associations who said, “This isn’t fair. You’re putting our Officers in a situation, ask them to write a certain number of parking tickets, and to basically harass these citizens for city profit.”
Dan Bongino: (01:14:22)
So having said that, it’s a great discussion. I’m glad you brought it up. And we do need to have, and sit down with the unions, but not everything they do is bad, and I think we should be open to hearing all sides.
Rep. Hice: (01:14:33)
Last question. What is the role of federal government with state and local law enforcement offices? Should the federal government be involved? I mean, the one size approach fits all. Every district, every Police Department is different. Rural versus urban versus inner city, all this sort of thing. What is the role of the federal government and the state and local Departments?
Dan Bongino: (01:14:55)
I think the President’s executive order is a good first step. Information sharing is definitely a positive. We don’t want bad Police Officers who were fired going and contaminating other Police Officers and Police Departments elsewhere. Information sharing is a must.
Dan Bongino: (01:15:09)
But having said that, a grand, big federal use of force plan, I think the President has it right using incentives and not edicts. Think about it, I’ll just give this quick example, having worked in both the Secret Service under President Obama, President Bush, and President Clinton, and the NYPD, there were use of force techniques we used in the Secret Service, things like thumb restraints if someone say, were shaking President Obama’s hand that won’t let go, that we learned to do to get them off. That’s not the kind of thing you would do as a Police Officer. But when you’re looking at potentially saving the President from a disastrous situation, that’s a use of force technique that’s very specific to the Secret Service.
Dan Bongino: (01:15:43)
Think about that in terms of rural and urban areas, learning how to fire around buildings versus being out in an open kind of rural environment, they’re completely different, and I think the federal role should be to incentivize good, solid, documented use of force, but to stay out of national edicts and let localities tailor it to their specific, what they need to do, what their job function is.
Rep. Hice: (01:16:06)
Thank you very much. Appreciate you being here and I yield back.
Dan Bongino: (01:16:09)
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:16:13)
So I now recognize myself for five minutes for questions. On March 13th, 2020, four Louisville Police Officers broke into Breonna Taylor’s home without warning and shot her eight times in the dead of night. They were executing an arrest warrant for someone they already had in custody and who did not live with Breonna Taylor or in the complex. Today, 98 days later, all four Officers are still Police Officers in Louisville. Eric Garner was killed by an Officer who held him in a choke hold. Choke holds were barred by the NYPD. Mr. Garner cried, “I can’t breathe,” 11 times. The Officer was never arrested. He kept his job for five years after Mr. Garner’s death.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:17:10)
Tamir Rice, the 12 year old child was shot and killed by Police two seconds after the officers arrived in the park where he was playing. The Officer was responding to a neighbors call that a child was playing with a gun that was probably a fake gun. The Officer was never arrested. These are, tragically, just a few of countless loved ones, childrens, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and friends lost to unnecessary Police violence.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:17:40)
For far too long Police Officers who commit horrific abuses against black Americans have not faced any consequences, not even when they take a life. I would like to ask Ms. Herron, can you talk briefly about the current lack of accountability for Police misconduct?
Keturah Herron: (01:18:01)
Yes. Thank you for that and explaining everything. I am happy to announce that today it was announced that a Brett Hankison was fired today from LMPD. So, that is a first step. And I think that that happened because of the continuous pressure on citizens here in Louisville and across the nation of demanding him to be arrested. But I mean, just like you said and explained, it’s super frustrating when we know that Police Officers are engaging in misconduct and for Mr. Hankison and many other Police Officers we’ve seen across the nation, it’s not their first time that things are building up and there’s smaller … There’s all these different things that are happening.
Keturah Herron: (01:18:54)
I think that a couple of people hit on this earlier today. We just want to make sure that Police are held accountable, and the only way that they’re going to be held accountable is that if there is legislation that is put into place that counteracts the protections that they have right now. I know that many jurisdictions have a Police bill of rights and they have all of these other things that pretty much protect them. And just like representative Presley said earlier, if you are a lawyer or a doctor and you engage in such behaviors, then you will lose your license and you will no longer be able to practice. That is the same thing that we want for Police Officers. That is simply to ensure that our communities do not continue to be brutalized and traumatized. Thank you.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:19:46)
Thank you. Thank you. Mr. Lewis, can you briefly discuss the issues you have encountered in trying to introduce reform in Tulsa?
Marc Lewis: (01:19:59)
Thank you. Madam Chairwoman, it’s been challenging, as even the Republicans have said, is that we do need to look at the FOP, the fraternal order of Police. The part of the problem is this, is that firing an Officer and also trying to get that particular Officer decertified so that they will not go to another Department. You had mentioned to Tamir Rice. Well, the Officer who killed Tamir Rice went to go work for another Department, another agency. And I think part of the challenge is, and to be Frank, we have too many agencies in the local community.
Marc Lewis: (01:20:38)
We have a particular area in Tulsa. We have possibly seven different agencies, and all of those seven different agencies each have their own set of policies. So to hold them accountable, for example, to hold them accountable, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office has one set of policies. The Tulsa Police Department has another set of policies. So what we have done is asked for all of law enforcement to publish your policies online so that all of the citizens can see that, but the Tulsa Police Department has done it, but the Sheriff’s Department has not done it. So it’s just been a struggle just to just go one step. Those are the things that we go through daily just to hold them accountable, just to make sure that these Officers who create these types of poison within the Department, we currently right now have an Officer who made national headlines by penning and saying that black people should be shot more.
Marc Lewis: (01:21:42)
The Officer has had a history of problems, even writing an article in 2016, this is war, after and then declared Black Lives Matter a hate group, but that Officer is still an Officer. That person also submitted to the Minneapolis Police Department saying that we will go ahead and give you warrior style training after the Mayor has banned the warrior or type or fear type of training.
Marc Lewis: (01:22:15)
So, that particular Police Officer is a cancer within the Department. So having that to be weeded out, we went to the Mayor, we went to the Mayor and the Chief of Police, and we just get the very passive type, “Well, we would go through a process.” They need to have a zero policy, a zero policy where they are going at them and they’re saying, “We’re not going to tolerate this,” and that you can not bring on this type of behavior and poison other Officers who are trying to do their job.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:22:53)
I thank you. Pastor McBride, can you discuss the notion that there are only a few bad apples in Police Departments that need to be identified and removed? Is this true, or are there larger issues at work?
Michael McBride: (01:23:07)
I do not believe the average Police Officer is a bad person. I have family members and loved ones and served with honor and distinction. But I do mean to say, however, that the culture of policing turns too many good people into bad Officers. We must reckon with this ugly truth. In 300 years of policing, we have yet to reach a consensus in this country that you cannot be a racist and be a cop. We have not agreed that you cannot be a cop and affiliate with white supremacists groups and KKK members and alt right members, then Neo Nazis. And so indeed there are elements in Police Departments that must be rooted out at the core to preserve the public safety servants who do embrace a different and re-imagined way of public safety.
Michael McBride: (01:24:01)
So our task has to be taking seriously part by part the kinds of public safety servants we want in a 21st century model, realizing that the route and the culture of Departments turn good people into bad cops, purge those elements, and let’s reimagine those who remain in ways that moved them from people who are using force to guardians, protectors, and bring in the ultimate modes of community-based public safety. That includes our violence reduction strategy. It was great to hear our Republican member mention gun violence in some of our urban communities. We would love to have bipartisan support for Break the Cycle of Violence Act.
Michael McBride: (01:24:50)
These kinds of strategies that we know indeed save lives without increasing Police Departments. It decreases Police budgets, and it keeps our young men and women and others from going to jail. There are solutions, but we must have the political will. We must have the imagination, and we must have the fortitude to look at the institution, not the individual, route out the culture and what remains will be a public safety system for the 21st century.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:25:22)
Thank you. And I will keep saying their names. Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and George Floyd. I hope my colleagues will work with me to try to ensure we never have to add anyone else to this list. I now recognize the ranking member, Jim Jordan, for five minutes, or as long as he’d like to question. Mr. Jordan, you’re recognized.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:26:06)
Hello? Can you hear me? Madam Chair?
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:26:19)
I can hear you. I can hear you. Can you hear?
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:26:20)
Okay. Thank you, Madam Chair. I want to thank our witnesses today for your testimony. Mr. Bongino, you serve with distinction in both the New York city Police Department and the Secret Service, is that right?
Dan Bongino: (01:26:42)
You hear me?
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:26:44)
I can now.
Dan Bongino: (01:26:45)
Yes, sir. That’s right.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:26:47)
And in both of those organizations there’s a chain of command. Is that accurate?
Dan Bongino: (01:26:52)
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:26:53)
You answer to your supervisor, Lieutenant, Captain, on up the chain of command, and ultimately the highest authority in a Police Department is the Chief of Police. Is that true?
Dan Bongino: (01:27:02)
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:27:03)
And the Police Chief in our system has to answer to ultimately elected officials. So the Police Chief in any municipality answers to who?
Dan Bongino: (01:27:13)
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:27:16)
They answer to?
Dan Bongino: (01:27:16)
The answer to a Mayor, or even in the case of the Secret Service, you will ultimately answer to the President of the United States, the DHS Secretary, you answer to the President.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:27:23)
That’s right. But in the case of a municipal Police Departments, they answer to the Mayor and the City Council.
Dan Bongino: (01:27:28)
Yeah, that’s correct.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:27:29)
They don’t answer to the President of the United States.
Dan Bongino: (01:27:31)
No, not if they’re not federal entities. No.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:27:34)
Right. Do you know who the Mayor of Minneapolis is.
Dan Bongino: (01:27:37)
Jacob Fry, I believe.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:27:39)
Jacob Fry. You know if he happens to be a Republican or a Democrat?
Dan Bongino: (01:27:42)
He’s most definitely a Democrat.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:27:44)
Right. You know who the Mayor was before Mr. Fry?
Dan Bongino: (01:27:47)
Was a Democrat, I’m sure. [crosstalk 01:27:50]
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:27:50)
You would be right. Her name was Betsy Hodges, and Ms. Hodges was in fact a Democrat. Do you know before Ms. Hodges who the Mayor of Minneapolis happened to be?
Dan Bongino: (01:27:59)
It was definitely a Democrat, because they haven’t had a Republican Mayor in a very long time.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:28:03)
You would be right again, it’s R.T. Rybak. He was Mayor for a long time. In fact, you know the last time there was a Republican Mayor in Minneapolis?
Dan Bongino: (01:28:10)
A long, long time ago.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:28:13)
1963. So before … I’m getting old, and that’s even before I was born. So, the last time we had a Republican Mayor in 1963, 50, some years ago, now it’s not just the Mayor, as you said, Mr. Bongino, there’s the City Council involved as well. So there’re 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council. Take a guess which party has a majority of the members of the City Council?
Dan Bongino: (01:28:36)
I guess it would be the Democrats.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:28:38)
Once again, you’d be right. There were 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council. Ward 1, Democrat. Ward 3, Democrat. Ward 4, Democrat. Ward 5, Democrat. Ward 6 Democrat. Ward 7, Democrat. Ward 8, Democrat. Ward 9, Democrat. Ward 10 Democrat. Ward 11, Democrat. Ward 12, Democrat. Ward 13, Democrat. So, 12 of the 13 are Democrats.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:28:56)
In Ward 2, that individual is not a Democrat, but they’re not a Republican either. They’re in the Green party. So you have a city where, completely controlled by the Democrats. The City Council is overwhelmingly Democrat, no Republicans and been run by Democrats for over 50 years. Yet, we have so many people on the left, back to even Mr. Raskin in his opening comments referenced President Trump. So many people who want to blame the President for the tragedy that took place in Minneapolis, which I just find astounding.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:29:32)
And now after that tragedy, you have rioters, looters, ANTIFA terrorists who destroy 500 businesses, 220 [inaudible 01:29:42], do what has been estimated at $55 million in damages, and across the country we’ve had 700 law enforcement personnel injured in these protests and riots around the country. Somehow that also is being blamed on President Trump, and their answer and their slogan, their statement is …
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:30:03)
Their answer and their slogan, their statement is three words, “Defund the police,” which I found, again, astounding. But tell me how … because I think this is the most insane policy proposal I’ve ever heard. Talk to me about this defund the police concept, something as a guy who wore the uniform, walk that beat, did your shift every single day as an NYPD officer, tell me how dangerous that is.
Dan Bongino: (01:30:28)
Well, Congressman, there are policies we talk about, and there are legitimate disagreements, tax rates, whatever they may be. A lot of that is esoteric. You can get a good accountant in some cases, whatever you may do. Tax rates probably in the long run aren’t going to kill you, even though they’re bad policy, at times.
Dan Bongino: (01:30:43)
That’s not this. If you support defund the police, I’ve said in the last hearing and I’ll say again, you should raise your right hand and take an oath to your constituents to go to all the funerals you’re going to see in your precinct as this happens, because make absolutely no mistake about this. I will say this on the record, I will say this on tape, and I’ll broadcast is everywhere. People will die. Kids will die. Teenagers will die. Adults will die. Moms will die. Dads will die.
Dan Bongino: (01:31:08)
That’s not just the first order effects we’re talking about from the de-policing of neighborhoods. What I mean by that is we’re not just talking about less uniformed presence on the street. When there’s a uniformed presence around, crime goes down. Why? Because smart people don’t commit crimes in front of police officers.
Dan Bongino: (01:31:23)
I’m also talking about the brain drain, the latent print officers that God forbid your house is burglarized and have years of experience pulling fingerprints that’ll never be pulled. The officers trained in sexual assault who know exactly how to talk to that woman or that man, in some cases, and say, “Listen, what happened here?” That trained domestic violence or child abuse officer who’s interviewed hundreds of kids in these tragic situations that knows exactly when that child, due to fear, is trying to protect an abusive parent because they’ve heard it 100 times before. That’s all going to go.
Dan Bongino: (01:31:53)
You want to defund that? Who are you going to bring in? You’re going to bring in social workers? Listen. As I said in the hearing, I adore what social workers do. I did my graduate degree in psychology. They do a great job. They are not police officers. They are not on the front lines of these dangerous situations.
Dan Bongino: (01:32:08)
I’ll throw one more at you. I’ve lived through broken windows, broken windows policing, where no one, no one on this … I respect what everybody said, and I mean that, but nobody is going to tell me that de-policing a neighborhood makes it safer, because I lived through the broken windows policing implementation in New York in one of the busiest, most high crime areas in New York City, East New York, Brooklyn, which is largely black and Hispanic, where the good residents of that city, they used to come out and tap me on the shoulder and say, “Officer, please don’t tell them I said it, but this guy is slinging crack on my corner, and he won’t be my family alone.”
Dan Bongino: (01:32:42)
How are you going to tell them? What’s going to be your lecture to them about de-policing? Have a social worker come out? I was there. I sat on that damn corner and listened to it. You’re not going to tell me it didn’t happen. That happened more than once. They deserve a police officer. Having said that, they deserve a good one. I understand the concerns, and they are legitimate. But people will die if you support this abomination of a policy, and I can’t ask you in strong enough terms to please stop talking about this on the other side. It is a nightmare for me and any of the good American citizens who just want a piece of this country and safety and security.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:33:17)
Well said. Loss of people, loss of expertise leads to unsafe neighborhoods. You’ve lived it. You’ve seen it. You came in in your career where you saw that happening, and you changed it because there was an increased police presence. Now, do you take them at their word, Mr. Bongino? Because we’ve had a lot of people here in the last few weeks who said defund the police doesn’t mean defund the police. I find that interesting. It’s three words, defund the police. Yet they say, that’s not what it means. Do you take them at their word when they talk about this concept?
Dan Bongino: (01:33:46)
Listen, I can only [crosstalk 00:03:49].
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:33:50)
[crosstalk 01:33:50] the gentleman may answer.
Dan Bongino: (01:33:52)
I can only take them at their own words. Defund means defund. Police organizations are not charitable organizations. They’re paid government employees. If you’re not going to pay them, you’re not going to have police and government employees. I mean, this is a simple understanding of the English language. If you don’t mean it to defund it, then don’t say it. It’s as simple as that.
Rep. Jim Jordan: (01:34:11)
Thank you for your service to the citizens and families in New York city and to the Presidents and the folks you’ve served and protected, and thank you for being with us today. I yield back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:34:24)
Nice. Chairman Raskin, right, for five minutes for questions, and following that, our clerk will take over the process of letting members who is next. Due to my ongoing connectivity issues, I am staying on until the end of this, but it’s hard with the connection that we have and not being able to see anyone. Anyway, I yield to the distinguished Chairman Raskin and thank him for his hard work on developing this hearing we have today. Thank you, Chairman Raskin.
Chair Raskin: (01:34:53)
Hey, thank you very much, Chairwoman Maloney. I first want to agree with my friend, Mr. Hice, about the vast superiority of our being in Washington together. This COVID-19 pandemic, which has cost 117,000 American lives that we mourn and sickened 2 million people and brought our economy to its knees, has caused real problems for Congress, and I hope we can get back quickly. I hope we have a meaningful testing and contact tracing strategy, and above all, I hope that every member of this committee and every other committee will wear a mask, because that is becoming a serious obstacle and obstruction to our doing our business in Congress.
Chair Raskin: (01:35:38)
So I just want to agree with Mr. Hice about the importance of our getting back as quickly as possible. Professor Crenshaw, it seems like whenever we get the nation’s attention through mass nonviolent, peaceful protest and mobilization on the problem of police brutality, oolice violence, people want to change the subject. Do we have to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey? Do we have to deal with the issue of abortion before we make policing safe for all of our citizens?
Kimberle Crenshaw: (01:36:15)
Thank you, Congressman. Absolutely not, and for those who are concerned about the lives and the welfare of black children, I couldn’t agree more that we should bring their lives into the conversation. Here’s how I would suggest we do so. Most of the women that I mentioned have children, and at least three of them lost their lives in front of their children. Two of them experienced their children being harmed by the police shooting and killing their mothers.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (01:36:53)
So one would at least expect that if black children are of concern to anyone who is involved in this conversation, they would certainly start with the black children who were shot by the police. They might extend that concern to children who, when their parents’ estates attempt to sue the police for the loss of their parents, have not been able to secure any significant settlement to reflect what the loss of their parent means to them across their entire life.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (01:37:31)
In the one case that I am aware of in which the jury provided a verdict in the killing of Korryn Gaines of $36 million for the injury to Korryn Gaines’ child and to the loss of their parental relationship, the judge ultimately overturned the jury verdict, citing for the first time immunity.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (01:37:55)
So we would hope that there would be a concern about this matter and that deescalation also be tied to the fact that, in many of these instances, children and other family members are present. So I welcome the concern about children. I would hope that it would be placed where the actual violence is happening.
Chair Raskin: (01:38:16)
Thank you very much, Professor. Mr. Lewis, Mr. Bongino in his testimony said that people should stop talking about defunding the police, because it’s endangering the police. I don’t know of a single member of this committee or any other committee in the House who has made a speech on the House floor about this who was advocating for a policy who is championing defunding the police. It’s the other side that keeps bringing it up as an obvious and irrelevant distraction from our George Floyd Justice in Policing legislation, which is about banning chokeholds and strangleholds and racial and ethnic profiling and developing a nationwide database of police misconduct and so on.
Chair Raskin: (01:39:02)
But we always start with banning the chokehold, And I see that Mr. Bongino Had something to say about that, too. In the Wall Street Journal on December the 4th, Mr. Lewis, he was quoted as saying this: “I can tell you,” and he’s talking about Eric Garner, about the strangulation and the death of Eric Garner. He says, “I can tell you it’s definitely not a trachea choke. He’s not closing off the wind pipe, because Gardner is, oddly, still talking. Saying you can’t breathe means you can breathe.” “Saying you can’t breathe means you can breathe.” Now, what is your reaction to Officer Bongino’s statement there? Is that going to be helpful for us to rebuild social consensus and the social contract in America?
Marc Lewis: (01:39:52)
No, it’s not helpful at all, and thank you, Congressman. That’s part of the problem. Language has power. So when you have someone who is a decorated officer, like Mr. Bongino is, you have that power that exudes to the other officers, who say, “I want to be like him. I want to do it like he does.” When you have a person in a chokehold, it should be outlawed, and that’s just it, plain and simple. If a suspect is saying he cannot breathe, you take them at their word. They cannot breathe. It is not your duty to be a medical advisor to find out whether or not if they’re speaking, that means they can’t breathe.
Chair Raskin: (01:40:33)
Should we wait for them to die before we believe them?
Marc Lewis: (01:40:37)
Absolutely not. I mean, their job is to preserve life. It should not be to take life. That should be their job. Unfortunately, many officers have the mentality, “I’m going home tonight,” and I believe that that mentality creates this concept of “I’m going to get you before you get me.” I understand there are neighborhoods where officers have heightened alert, but when we’re talking about defunding or putting money in resources that are needed, in my opening testimony, I talked about how little mental health training is given.
Marc Lewis: (01:41:16)
Locally within Tulsa, we have all heard in reference to “We need more money. We need more cops. We need more funding.” So just recently, the mayor has held a new police car rep. That money is going to rep new police cars. Could you imagine how much money could be given to mental health services, deescalation, racial bias training?
Chair Raskin: (01:41:43)
Thank you. Unfortunately, my time’s almost up, so I just want to make one final point, which is in the Heroes Act, which we passed several weeks ago, the Democratic majority has funded state and local government, including police forces, first responders, fire departments. It’s our Republican allies who refuse to support the Heroes Act, who refuse to put money into funding state and county and local government. With that, Madame Chair, I will yield back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:42:12)
Thank you, Mr Raskin. Next we will go to Mr. Roy. Mr. Roy, you are now recognized.
Rep. Hice: (01:42:19)
Well, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to join here. I wish we were all meeting in person. I’d co-sponsor the remarks made by my friend, Mr. Hice from Georgia and a few of my other colleagues. I think it’s important that we be able to look each other in the eye and be able to engage together to work through issues such as these.
Rep. Hice: (01:42:37)
One thing I would point out to my friend from Maryland, Chairman Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee, I should say, that the Heroes Act that he laments not being passed was chock full of a significant amount of political priorities for the Democrat majority in the House and was not a straightforward, simple, decent legislation, which I’m happy to work with my colleagues on straightforward bills, like getting the PPP Flexibility Act passed, and I was happy to work with my friend Dean Phillips from Minnesota on a bipartisan basis to do.
Rep. Hice: (01:43:13)
I think this is the right approach. The Heroes Act was being jammed through at the last minute and was just dropping a massive, multi-hundred-thousand … I don’t remember how many pages, 2200 page, whatever it is, a massive bill with a whole lot of provisions in it, with a significant amount of dollars attached to it, with no real debate and significant input from the minority or, frankly, the majority.
Rep. Hice: (01:43:35)
I mean, we need to restore legislative order. We need to actually have debate, amendment. Let’s get on the floor of the House. This isn’t even a comment about the virus. This predates the virus. Let’s get on the floor with simple, straightforward bills, and let’s offer amendments. Let’s have debate on those amendments. Let’s discuss them. Let’s talk about what we need to do to make sure that police have the backing of the American people and the support that they need to do their job, but that we’re making sure liberty is being protected.
Rep. Hice: (01:44:02)
We all want that. We want order and liberty, because if you don’t have one, you don’t have the other, in truth. So with that and on that point, I would ask Mr. Bongino if he could shed a little bit more light, and I may not have heard every question asked, but one of the things that I’ve been focusing on and trying to understand is two things that are bothering me. One is the extent to which police officers broadly are being painted with a broad brushstroke in a way that is undermining their ability to do their job and painting them with a brush that isn’t fair for all members of the police and that there’s something like 60-some odd million interactions between Americans and law enforcement each year. It depends on how you count the numbers.
Rep. Hice: (01:44:48)
But Mr. Bongino, If you could comment on that and extent to which, of all of the interactions in studies that I’ve seen, a study in which 100,000 interactions were studied, and the vast majority of those, 99% resulted in no force being applied. Then of those in which force is being applied, 98% of those resulted in either no injury or some mild form of injury. Then narrow that down. I want to zero in on the problem, right? I want to zero in on what’s actually occurring and then root out that problem.
Rep. Hice: (01:45:17)
So Mr Bongino, if you could comment on that point, the point about the overall engagement between law enforcement and civilians throughout the nation and how we approach that with our law enforcement community, and then secondly, what do we do to address bad actors, dirty cops, ones that are doing it the wrong way, where you have situations like we saw in Minneapolis, to be clear, where you’ve got to an officer who had 12 previous complaints, I think, if I’ve got the number right in my head, I don’t have it right in front of me, and a significant number of complaints in the Minneapolis Police Department, some of which were not necessarily pursued? How do we make sure that the right cops are on the beat, that the right cops are there and the wrong ones are not? I would appreciate your thoughts on both of those questions.
Dan Bongino: (01:46:04)
Okay. On the first one, as was just evidenced by Mr. Raskin, who entirely mischaracterized what I was trying to get across in that Wall Street Journal interview because he has a lack of understanding about use of force because he wasn’t a police officer, of course, what I was trying to get across in that interview with the Wall Street Journal is there’s a lot of misinformation out there about use of force when it comes to policing, again, as we just sadly had to witness. I have the numbers here. 0.0004% of police interactions, that’s a zero, a decimal point, three more zeros, and a four actually result in the lethal use of force by a police officer. Again, all of those incidents are tragic. I don’t even support the death penalty after adjudication, which offends some of my conservative friends, but that’s okay.
Dan Bongino: (01:46:54)
But having said that, these are not simple questions. The reasons police officers engage in use of force are very sui generis and unique to that situation and should be evaluated. They should be subjected to due process and review. Having stated that, this is not a simple question. When you throw out talking points like, “Hey, listen, we need to get rid of chokeholds,” have you thought any of that through? Number one, what is a chokehold? When you ask members of Congress and others, they have no idea what a chokehold even is.
Dan Bongino: (01:47:22)
What I was trying to get across in that interview is are you talking about a tracheal chokehold or the compression of a windpipe? Because if you are, that’s very dangerous. That is unquestionably deadly force and can be almost instant deadly force if applied wrong and applied with a lot of pressure. The point I was making in that interview is a trachael chokehold is not a carotid restraint. They may look the same, but they look the same because you’re not trained to apply either one and you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Dan Bongino: (01:47:48)
A carotid restraint is the compression of the carotid arteries on both sides of the neck. That technique is not dangerous. It is not dangerous. If it was dangerous, there would be no mixed martial arts competitions where it happens every night or a jujitsu school anywhere in America where it happens hundreds of thousands of times a day. It is a very safely applied technique to render a subject temporarily unconscious so he stops attacking you.
Dan Bongino: (01:48:14)
It’s not something you play around with. It is not a tool to be casually thrown around in a parking ticket situation. But if you’ll notice in the Rashard Brooks case, the tragic case where the man died, one of the officers appears to go for a neck restraint like that and lets it go, which later resulted in the implementation and use of a firearm.
Dan Bongino: (01:48:33)
So for the members who want to throw out the term chokehold without determining what they’re talking about, a carotid restraint or a tracheal restraint, I ask you a simple question: Well, if you don’t want to use that tool, what’s your suggestion? We go to impact weapons and a firearm? Oh, you don’t have a suggestion. Of course, because you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Dan Bongino: (01:48:51)
Secondly, how do we get rid of bad cops? Well, body cameras, universal body cameras are a good start. They protect both the police officer and the public. The public, if they’re being harassed by a police officer, should be able to go to that video tape. Secondly, as I indicated before with Representative Hice, we’ve got to work with the police units. They’ve got to step up here. They know that. Good cops know that. We’ve got to stop protecting bad cops. Not only are they creating harm for the community, which is deadly in some cases, but they’re also contaminating the reputation of the good cops out there who sincerely show up to work today and every day with a desire just to help the community.
Rep. Hice: (01:49:27)
One more question. I don’t know where I’m at on my time. It’s hard to track here. So if you’ll indulge a quick question, Madame Chair, one thing that I posited that we need I think potentially more police on the streets, forming relationships and walking beats and engaging, not fewer. That’s why I get concerned about defund and where that might go. You can talk about toys and all those kinds of things. You’re talking about civil asset forfeiture. I’ve been talking about that for years, and I’m sure my friend from Maryland, again, we would probably have some agreements on a number of these areas with respect to civil liberties. One thing that I want to ask, though, is I’ve introduced a bill, HR 7270, to count the Crimes to Cut Act, which would require to DOJ to compile an inventory of criminal code so Congress can take-
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:50:22)
Mr. Roy, your time has expired.
Rep. Hice: (01:50:22)
Well, if I could finish, then I’ll ask a question and then I’ll wrap up, that it would require DOJ to compile an inventory of criminal codes so Congress could take another look at over-criminalization. We’ve got a significant number of federal statutes and regulations. I would just ask Mr. Bongino, do you think reducing the number of crimes might make things simpler and a little easier for law enforcement to focus on crimes that matter in our highly over-criminalized society?
Dan Bongino: (01:50:40)
Yes, I think that’s a great question. Listen, the tragic death of Mr. Gardner was because of untaxed cigarettes. Again, I’m not suggesting we should get rid of every law and every regulation, but policing for profit has created a number of incendiary situations in the community that were entirely unnecessary. That’s a great question, and I agree with your assertion there wholeheartedly.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:51:02)
Thank you. We will-
Rep. Hice: (01:51:02)
Thank you for the indulgence, Madame Chairwoman.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:51:04)
We will go to Miss Norton next. Miss Norton?
Del. Norton: (01:51:09)
I want to thank all of our witnesses for being here, including, I might add, our police witness. I think it is very important to listen closely to the police, those of us who depend upon the police, and to not take a slogan about the police as what this committee and all of us really want from the police. Listen to us, and I think we did get to what we need.
Del. Norton: (01:51:35)
I cannot help but have a question from Mr. Lewis, because he is from Oklahoma, I think even from Tulsa, and it is Tulsa at a moment when we’re looking at structural racism and policing that is in the spotlight not as much because of what is happening in Tulsa now as to what happened in Tulsa. In 1921, the President was fired to move his rally from Juneteenth, the day when African Americans in some parts of the country, including Texas, first understood that they had been emancipated.
Del. Norton: (01:52:28)
The reason that we’ve invited, I’m sure, a witness from Tulsa is not because of necessarily the rally there, but because of what occurred in Tulsa, which is only now being recognized. It’s probably fair to say that in no American community has there been violence by police that equaled what happened in Tulsa, a virtual massacre of African Americans, which is only now being recognized nationally, and that largely because of the George Floyd eye-witnessed killing.
Del. Norton: (01:53:14)
The reason that your city is of importance to this discussion is what had been built there before this massacre, which occurred after an African American was accused of killing a white person. Mr. Lewis, it is where the Greenwood Section is located, the so-called Black Wall Street, and I understand there is still a search for the dead going on there. Nobody was ever charged. The governor has invited the President to tour Greenwood once he comes for this rally. I’d like your reaction, Mr. Lewis, or the reaction of the African American community to the rally being held here in the first place, in light of the massacre that took place there. Do you think that inviting the President there is for recognition of what happened there and perhaps to encourage greater recognition of what happened there? What is the reaction of the African American community to this issue?
Marc Lewis: (01:54:42)
Thank you, Congresswoman. The African Americans in Tulsa are still reeling. I mean, we have descendants here that have not been able to say goodbye to their loved ones. There have been mass graves that the mayor has now commissioned a team to look for. This happened. It’s a 1921 race massacre, and you’re correct, Congresswoman, in reference to massacre. They didn’t have a chance. This was a black, thriving community. Black dollars lay the streets of Greenwood. This was a thriving community, and it was gone by white supremacy. White supremacists came in and destroyed this community. 99 years later, we’re still trying to hold onto those truths, and we’re still trying to hold onto rebuilding.
Marc Lewis: (01:55:39)
The President coming to Tulsa, Oklahoma was a slap in the face of those descendants. It’s a slap in the face of African Americans in this city, African Americans in Oklahoma. We have heard the President’s rhetoric. We have heard everything he has said. We have seen African Americans have been used as pawns. We have seen that. We’re not ignorant. We can walk and chew gum, but one thing we are, we will not tolerate someone using us as props.
Marc Lewis: (01:56:10)
So a lot of organizations have gotten together to put pressure back on the governor to say that we don’t want him to come to Greenwood. We don’t want his people, and we know that the President travels with white supremacists. We do not want those people in Greenwood. We have already experienced Greenwood burned down by white supremacy. That’s what we don’t want, and we don’t have it. We will not have it.
Marc Lewis: (01:56:39)
One of the things that we love about our city is that we have always been peaceful. The only violence that has happened to our city has been brought by the hands of white supremacists. So what we do, we lock arms in love. We lock arms in patience and prayer and lift up the ancestors to let them know that we’re still fighting on their behalf.
Marc Lewis: (01:57:03)
To date, compensation has not been given to any of the survivors or their members, and that’s something that we have to look for. We have to look towards to say that something has to be done, and we’re preserving whatever legacy that we have and trying to build for from.
Marc Lewis: (01:57:19)
So the President did not make Juneteenth popular. He did not make Greenwood popular. I urge everyone to please go and do your research. Please go up and look at the 1921 race massacre. Please go and find out about Greenwood. Come tour and find out more. Find out how this thriving city was once dubbed Little Africa. Thank you.
Del. Norton: (01:57:48)
Thank you very much. Will there be demonstrations there, and will you be locking arms or otherwise recognizing what happened there in 1921?
Marc Lewis: (01:57:57)
Yes, there will be several demonstrations. A lot of demonstrations will be there. There’s groups who always go through ceremonial libations to give credence to the ancestors, those who were burned. There will be tours. There will be … I think the Reverend Al Sharpton will be there to speak. It’s going to be a celebration, and we celebrate Juneteenth here in Tulsa. It is not a misnomer. We celebrate that. We want everyone to know that Tulsa is a beaconing of hope and a beaconing of light, but we also have to let people know that we will not tolerate any form of white supremacy in our community.
Del. Norton: (01:58:41)
Thank you very much, Mr. Lewis, a very important testimony for this hearing.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:58:46)
Thank you, Miss Norton. Next we will go to Mr. Lynch.
Chair Lynch: (01:58:51)
Thank you. Can you hear me?
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:58:54)
Chair Lynch: (01:58:56)
Well, thank you very much. First of all, I want to thank the chair. Thank you, Miss Maloney. Thank you, Chairman Raskin and Miss Presley. Thank you for your perspective. Very, very helpful and very valuable. I want to thank our witnesses.
Chair Lynch: (01:59:09)
Just on the mask and the going down to DC and doing the hearings live, which I missed, I did attend for the last two days for 20 hours, a markup at … I’m on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as well. I am concerned, because while I did go down there and wear a mask, many of my Republican colleagues did not wear a mask.
Chair Lynch: (01:59:36)
So I think we need to get together on that. It’s to protect each. So if the last couple of days down in DC at that hearing was any example of what’s going on, I would be very leery about getting into that situation again, if a lot of people are not going to wear a mask. So let’s protect each other, let’s wear a mask, and let’s do our work. My subcommittee is actually … I want to thank the witnesses.
Chair Lynch: (02:00:03)
My subcommittee is actually … I want to thank the witnesses. My subcommittee is really on national security, so I have much more experience after … I’ve got 30 trips to Iraq, I’ve got 15 trips to Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, Mali, Somalia, all of that. Most of my experience on looking at the treatment of detainees is in the military context, so I have reviewed a lot of rules of engagement cases for our sons and daughters in uniform overseas and less so on the domestic side but I was stunned. When I read the use of force policy in Minneapolis, the use of force policy there that calls for rendering a detainee, an unarmed detainee unconscious and would violate the rules of engagement for U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere around the world. It would also violate the Geneva Convention.
Chair Lynch: (02:01:09)
I was very surprised to hear Mr. Bongino’s remarks about a police officer on the street rendering a detainee unconscious and I really do think we need to look at that policy, that chokehold policy. There are only two people who are authorized right now to render an individual unconscious, and that is a police officer apparently under this use of force policy that’s active in Minneapolis, and an anesthesiologist. One works on the street and will do it on a sidewalk, the other one goes through 12 years of training and does that in a hospital setting with huge implications for liability and I just do not … I do not believe that we should have a policy … Look, we got 16,000 police departments across the country, including sheriff’s offices and all that, and we put folks through police academy but we do not … Think about that. We do not train our police officers to the degree where we can safely assume that they can render a person on the street in the middle of a struggle unconscious. The margin of error there between rendering a person unconscious and strangling him like what happened in Minneapolis and with Eric Garner and others is just unacceptable and we cannot in good conscience continue that practice.
Chair Lynch: (02:02:45)
So I know that Mr. Lewis, you remarked earlier on Governor Baker’s new police reform policies and I was wondering if you would want to comment on that on … That’s my state, I work with Governor Baker regularly, I support his perspective and his policy. I’m just wondering if you want to elaborate on that a little bit. You seem to be very well-versed in that. You might be muted, I’m sorry, Mr. Lewis.
Marc Lewis: (02:03:26)
Are you able to hear me?
Chair Lynch: (02:03:30)
Marc Lewis: (02:03:31)
Okay, great. Sorry about that. Thank you Congressman. De-certification is definitely … I feel is a big solution. If we can start de-certifying these officers, we will not have them go to smaller agencies. Because that’s typically what happens. You have officers who are in these larger agencies and these larger agencies that spent so much money training them and they can just quit and go to a smaller agency, and that smaller agency may not have the funding that they need, so they will go ahead and get these people who are decorated officers, trained, but yet they have a bad, they have a track record, but that officer should have been de-certified prior to going to that agency and we know that use of force goes to excessive use of force and it goes to killing and death. That’s a pattern, and if we can stop it in the beginning, we will not have officers choking a person, a citizen in the streets, because there was a pattern that was there. So my solution was like the governor is to go out and try to find out what’s going on with these officers and let’s de-certify them so they will never become a police officer in that particular field and they will not create harm going forward.
Chair Lynch: (02:04:58)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I yield back. Thank you for your indulgence. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (02:05:12)
Thank you. Next we will go to Mr. Connolly.
Mr. Connolly: (02:05:16)
Thank you and I thank all of our witnesses for being with us here today. I particularly want to thank the passion our colleague from Massachusetts Ms. Pressley expressed. I wish every American could hear it and I also want to thank Mr. Raskin for his eloquence and putting in context what we’re dealing with today. Not a new issue, unfortunately. Mr. Bongino, I’m going to ask you to try to keep your answer brief because I only have five minutes. Is it your position that there is systemic racism that needs to be rooted out in law enforcement or it’s just a few bad apples who need to be pulled?
Mr. Bongino: (02:06:01)
My position is yes, racism exists, but thankfully it’s isolated and becoming more so [inaudible 02:06:09].
Mr. Connolly: (02:06:10)
I don’t think any of your fellow panelists would agree with that. I think they would say it’s systemic and it needs to be addressed in a much more fundamental way than simply calling out some of the bad actors. The problem is, although the overwhelming majority of men and women in law enforcement may be good people, the institution reinforces racism. The institution allows with impunity excessive use of force, particularly aimed at people of color. That seems to be a fact, not just an opinion. Let me ask Ms. Crenshaw and Mr. Lewis. It seems to me that we’re dealing with a culture of impunity so that when a particular police officer is charged if that ever happens with brutality or lethal use of force that was excessive and unjustified, what happens culturally is a circle the wagons kind of mentality and that’s the impunity. For example we’ve seen that. Right now in Buffalo, we saw a squad of 57 resign from a special unit in protest to the fact that one of their own had been charged with lethal force, unjustified force, that led to a concussion and the inability of the victim to walk. A person by the way accused of being ANTIFA who in fact was somebody associated with the Catholic social justice movement, an older man, 75 years old, cracked his skull and can’t walk.
Mr. Connolly: (02:07:55)
Then after that, when he was arraigned in court, a number of his colleagues from the police department came out to applaud him walking out of the courthouse, as if they fully supported his use of excessive force. We saw police officers in Louisville turn their backs on the mayor because the mayor dared to simply say, “I think we have to have some fundamental reforms.” We’ve seen New York police call in with the blue flu in protest to the fact that they’re being held accountable at all. Historically we’ve seen police unions, FOP, police associations in the aggregate oppose body cameras for more accountability, oppose civilian review control panels for more accountability, and consistently defending and reinstating cops who had repeatedly been charged with brutality, especially brutality against people of color. How do we get to a culture of accountability when we’re still denying that this is a fundamental structural problem, and secondly we’ve built a culture of impunity that resists at all costs any kind of accountability?
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:09:11)
Thank you Congressman for that important question, and I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of how the culture reinforces the lack of accountability. Let’s take for example the head of the union in Minneapolis. He has had more than 20 complaints against him. He’s been involved in three shootings. He said he doesn’t feel a thing about that and in fact is proud of it. So it may well be the fact that there are a few bad apples in the sense that there are those who are willing to resort to violence in circumstances that are quite questionable. The institutionalized dimension of it is the fact that that kind of behavior is not punished but it is rewarded. So those officers who are able to rise up the ranks by having this attitude that they are actually at war with the people that they are meant to serve.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:10:12)
Let me just underscore the notion of the unions, actually creating in collective bargaining, particular preferences for potential wrongdoing that police officers might do that no one else gets. No one else gets the opportunity to take two or three days before they have to testify or say what happens. No one else gets a chance to hold onto their jobs unless there is concrete evidence of wrongdoing such as a video of them doing something wrong but yet turning off their video isn’t enough for the presumption to be that, “Well, perhaps you have done something wrong and so you have to take the risk if you turn off your video and cannot provide the proof of what happened.”
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:11:01)
So we need to roll back the concessions that have been made to police unions. We have to create incentives in spending so that those communities that have real limits on what can be negotiated away in terms of the rights of individuals to be able to have cases against police officers proceed in the same way that they would proceed if it was anyone else.
Mr. Connolly: (02:11:26)
Would you allow Mr. Lewis to answer the question and I will yield back.
Marc Lewis: (02:11:33)
Thank you. I believe that when there are investigations, that should be public. The general public should know if their officers are under investigation. That’s something that the general public doesn’t know. A lot of the stuff comes out after the officer is terminated or something that’s happened on the media then we look back into their past. That should not be a personnel record. That should be general public information. The accountability of the blue line, I’m sorry but I call them a gang because sometimes they have the mentality that they are going to go, no one crosses this blue line. I’ve seen other officers and even right now I believe her name was [Caroline Horne 02:12:16] out in Buffalo, she lost her job because she tried to correct an officer and she lost her job for that and now we have the mayor of Buffalo who is now going to reopen that and try to get her her job back. So there are good officers, but then they get penalized when they try to do the right thing.
Marc Lewis: (02:12:35)
So how do we stop this culture? In my opinion it starts from the head. It starts from the elected official. In most municipalities, the mayor is over the police department, but I want this panel to understand that the sheriff department has absolute power. There is no one over the sheriff and that’s something that we need to revisit because that is the first form of law enforcement is the sheriff’s department and I yield back.
Speaker 2: (02:13:07)
Thank you. Next we will go to Ms. Wasserman-Schultz.
Ms. Wasserman-Schultz: (02:13:12)
Thank you, thank you very much. On Friday May 29, the morning after protesters and police clashed in Minneapolis, President Trump took to Twitter to declare that thugs were dishonoring the memory of George Floyd and asserted that when the looting starts, the shooting starts. I want to ask sort of a rapid fire series of questions because I want to really establish the impact that [inaudible 02:13:40] has on the overall cascade of events that’s followed and the choices that people make with their words really shape the direction that the protests and the follow-up to an egregious act like the murder of Mr. Floyd can go. So Professor Crenshaw, can you tell us the historical roots of that statement, when the looting starts, the shooting starts just briefly and what the president was invoking?
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:14:19)
Yes, thank you so much for that question. The statement basically refers to the historical fact that law enforcement was used and continued to be used by mayors and other government officials reinforcing white supremacy. Specifically it was a phrase by Walter Headley, the chief of police in Miami, Florida, who was basically using that as a warning, a threat, a justification about the use of violence against those who were seen as lawbreakers and let’s be clear, when we’re talking about lawbreakers, we are basically talking about individuals and groups who were protesting discrimination, protesting white supremacy. The history that we’re talking about is that history, the history of really even turning law enforcement against Martin Luther King.
Ms. Wasserman-Schultz: (02:15:19)
Thank you. Thank you.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:15:20)
So we need to be clear about this.
Ms. Wasserman-Schultz: (02:15:22)
Yes, and being that I represent part of Miami-Dade County and the rule that you never ask a question that you don’t know the answer to, I appreciate having an expert actually articulate that answer. Thank you so much. Mr. Lewis, what does it mean to you when you hear the looting starts, the shooting starts.
Marc Lewis: (02:15:42)
It’s dogwhistles. We know what that means. We hear it in the media constantly. We know exactly what group they’re talking about, we’re talking about minorities. It’s an insult and minorities are not the ones who are just always looting so it’s an insult.
Ms. Wasserman-Schultz: (02:15:59)
Thank you, and it’s ridiculous. The president later attempted to clarify his remarks by saying that it was spoken as a fact, not a statement, and said that nobody should have any problem with it other than the haters and those looking to cause trouble on social media, which leads me to jump that there have been countless other nationwide protests in this administration, the women’s march, protests against the Muslim ban, the march that took place after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, marches against [inaudible 02:16:30] kids in cages and you notice the administration didn’t react to any of those protests. Professor Crenshaw, why do you think governments reacted to protests for racial justice so differently? What I want to zero in on is that there is a double standard that we see from the Trump administration which appears to be rooted in racism. No matter what tactics they use, the Trump administration always seems to really zero in on an inappropriate, over the top, unacceptable, race baiting reaction when it is people of color that are protesting, but yet the other protests that had hundreds of thousands and in one case a million people, nothing. Where do you think that comes from?
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:17:23)
Congresswoman, that double standard has many of us deeply in despair. Partly because it’s a continuation of a double standard so let’s just be clear, over the course of history, when black people have protested discrimination, that protest has been as out of order. Our own FBI called Martin Luther King the greatest threat to the security of America but it extends even today where you have a category called black identity extremism. That’s been applied to Black Lives Matter people. They’ve been framed as a deep threat and sometimes that frame has actually even extended beyond the KKK and other white supremacist organizations [inaudible 02:18:13]
Ms. Wasserman-Schultz: (02:18:14)
Thank you, and just really quickly Ms. Herron, would you agree that the language from the White House wasn’t mere words but reflective of how this administration polices black Americans?
Keturah Herron: (02:18:25)
Absolutely. When I hear those words, I hear property over people and I think that that is something that we have seen historically in our nation and definitely something that the current president, what he lives like.
Ms. Wasserman-Schultz: (02:18:39)
Thank you Madam Chair, I appreciate the indulgence and I yield back.
Speaker 2: (02:18:45)
Thank you. Next we will go to Ms. Kelly.
Rep. Hice: (02:18:50)
Thank you Madam Chair, thank you for having this hearing and thank you to all the witnesses and thank you for your patience because I do represent the Chicagoland area, I am compelled to comment on what my colleague said when he talked about the people that recently were shot in Chicago and then he also talked about the unborn children living their lives. I find it so very interesting that comments are made about that because I ran on gun violence prevention and since I’ve been in Congress even years it took to when the Democrats took over to even get a vote on having background checks, opposing the Charleston loophole, very, very few Republicans voted for those bills and I also have an internal mortality bill where all women, too many women have died but black women have died three to four times the rate of white women in Illinois, six times the rate, and I could not get one Republican on my bill called the MOMMA’s Act so it’s interesting to me that they talk about how much they care but when given the opportunity to save lives, they have not done that.
Rep. Hice: (02:19:59)
Ms. Crenshaw, I want you to know that my office participated in the Say Her Name tweet yesterday for 12 hours and we almost had every slot filled at the 15 minute increments so we put it out there and I just want to thank all of you for what you’re doing but what I want to know is is this a moment or is something going to really happen? What do you think and why has this really I guess gotten to be so American it seems like? [inaudible 02:20:33]
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:20:41)
This is the question of the hour, is this a movement or is this a moment? I think there are indications that this may in fact be more than a moment, partly because as has been mentioned by many people today, when the police were actually in everybody’s view and we could see exactly how the police in many of these cities were reacting, one didn’t have to go back to old videos. One didn’t have to just trust our testimony. For so long the idea was because this is happening out of sight, out of mind, we can’t really get society to look seriously at the problem. Well for two weeks every day seven days a week, there was plenty to see and it was important that it was not just pictures of African-Americans that were under the baton as it were, but even white Americans and others who came out to protest. So I think that vision was abundantly clear and it gives us the text from which to see so many things that have not been legible until this moment.
Rep. Hice: (02:21:58)
Mr. Lewis? I just want to make sure –
Marc Lewis: (02:22:02)
Okay, yes. I don’t believe that this is a fading moment. People are tired and we talked about the institution of racism which is the foundation of this country and I want to definitely make sure that everyone is aware about Crystal Mason. She is about to serve five years in prison for just voting and that’s the institution of racism that we had. So I want to make sure that we understand that this is not a fleeting moment. We are here, we’re captivating. When I first started I will give you my own testimony, when I first started, people who were on the opposite side said, “Oh Mark, you’re wrong. That’s not fair.” They were so pro-police and against, they thought I was the problem. Now those same people are coming back to me and saying, “I’m sorry. I thought it was that.” Thank you.
Rep. Hice: (02:22:56)
Right. Ms. Herron?
Keturah Herron: (02:23:03)
Yes. I definitely think that what you’re seeing right now, that it is a movement and it is more than the moment. I know that for us here in Kentucky, we have seen our young people lead. I’ve seen across the nation our black folks lead and I think one thing that is important is that while we’ve seen some of the other movements with young folks, some of the gun violence things with young folks, the black voice has been left out and the black voice has not gone away any time soon and so I think that what you’re seeing is that people have to listen to this voice now and our young people are not going to stop and this is their nation, this is their society, they’re the ones that are going to be raising the next generation of kids, paying taxes, and being our next legislators.
Rep. Hice: (02:23:54)
I’ve run out of time. I don’t know if they’ll let the other two witnesses speak but thank you so much and [inaudible 02:24:00] you guys too, so thanks, we’re all in this together.
Speaker 2: (02:24:08)
Thank you Ms. Kelly. Next we will go to Mr. Grothman.
Mr. Grothman: (02:24:14)
Hi, I’m not even going to say in particular, I have a long history in politics but I was in the state legislature and I had a bill about 12 years ago making it easier to get rid of a police officer. I got almost no help at the time. I did get one Democrat senator to sign on but I’m very pro-police but I think even the good police don’t want to protect the bad police but sometimes the power of the police union and politicians going to bat for them are a problem and it’s particular a problem in our big cities. I think there are rumors that that was a big problem in Minneapolis that may have resulted in this death. Could somebody comment on why … Because we have … A lot of you here live in big cities. Why so many people vote for politicians in big cities who really as part of their campaign, their major goal is to help the unions or one of the goals is to help the unions protect the worst actors? Give a reason why historically that’s been true? Why those politicians have a tendency to get elected in our big urban cities?
Marc Lewis: (02:25:29)
I would just say that I believe it is because we have not yet created a robust imagination for the electorate to understand [inaudible 02:25:38]
Mr. Grothman: (02:25:38)
This has been going on for 20 years. My bill came out 13 years ago. It’s not a new thing. I mean it seems by design.
Marc Lewis: (02:25:47)
I understand, and for the last 50 years, the inability to understand public safety beyond policing for the electorate allows politicians to only depend on that one tool exclusively and not paint a broad picture for folks to imagine that we can indeed have public safety beyond policing. I think elected officials are afraid of the police unions because people in our community do not understand that we can indeed implement strategies. That can indeed make our community safe.
Mr. Grothman: (02:26:23)
Okay. My next comment, I just do want to point out on behalf of people in my district who’ve come from all over the world, they all bristle at the idea that we have a racist society. [inaudible 02:26:34] not everybody feels that way. I talk to people who come here from all over the world and are making it and when they compare America to their countries’ home, they feel it is so much easier to be a success in America than in Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, what have yo. So at least my experience in my district is with people who have done very well despite coming here and not even being able to speak the language, having a different religion. You can just look at, they don’t look European at all, and they make it all the way and I think we can go overboard in saying that it’s difficult to make it in America if you’re not of European background because many people make it and in my district, so many make it and I think they take it as a little bit of an insult to America when they imply that you can’t be. A question for Ms. Herron. I see behind you, you’ve got a picture of Angela Davis and I know what her politics are. It kind of concerns me a little bit. Do you buy into her politics?
Keturah Herron: (02:27:48)
Absolutely. Angela Davis is someone that I have looked up to, I have studied, and I admire her as a black woman and her fighting for black folks to be free. She is definitely someone that I hone into on a daily basis to ensure that as I am fighting this fight, that I am well-protected and have the knowledge that I need, and one thing that I would like to say is that historically black folks are the only folks in this nation who have been enslaved in that way and so when we’re talking about what things need to do or what things need to change is that while we’re mentioning [inaudible 02:28:29] on the back of black slaves, and our policies that have been created, whether it was in healthcare or whether it’s in criminal justice, have been [inaudible 02:28:39] to keep black folks oppressed and until we address those systemic policies on the federal level and on the local level, we’re going to continue to have issues.
Mr. Grothman: (02:28:51)
Okay, thanks. One final question. One of the things, and like I said, I was out trying to make it easier to get rid of a bad cop about 14 years ago before it was fashionable, but one of the things that frustrates me, my district does not include the city of Milwaukee but it’s adjacent to the city of Milwaukee, and right now our murders are up something like 20 more than this time last year, including somebody I’ve heard a little bit about who died working at an all-night gas station, kind of late into the morning after a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Like I said, 20 more people have died this year than last year. Nevertheless we’re having hearings and everybody cares about, as well they should if they’re bad problems, about the gentleman who died in Minnesota, but we have so many people dying in Milwaukee, we had a weekend, a few weekends ago when you had 30 people dying in Chicago, and it makes people like me wonder a little bit where is the outrage when people die on the north side of Milwaukee or on the south and west side of Chicago other than guns, I don’t blame guns as being the
Mr. Grothman: (02:30:03)
…Side of Chicago, other than guns. I don’t blame guns as being the answer. Guns is part of our Constitution. We have guns forever, guns all over my district, we don’t have a high murder rate. Where is the outrage over these deaths, which are so wildly more than the handful of deaths and police. And it frustrates me when I see… To me, I don’t know why Black Lives Matter can’t take a GoFundMe page or something for the people who’ve died kind of in the aftermath of the protest. Why is there not more outrage or sympathy for this much larger group of people who are dying?
Michael McBride: (02:30:41)
There is outrage and there is sympathy. I work with people in Milwaukee. Reggie Moore, the 414Life, and they… I literally [inaudible 00:00:49]. Every time there are people who are killed, their outrage is in the congregations, their outrage is in the home. People are weeping and grieving at the loss of life. It is often not covered by the press. I do believe that we should continue to ask these kinds of questions, but also lift up solutions. We have solutions. The Urban Progress Act is a solution. Scaling up gun violence prevention programs is a solution. If in Milwaukee, they were resourced to the full extent of their budget-
Mr. Grothman: (02:31:21)
Michael McBride: (02:31:21)
We could eliminate those kinds of shootings.
Mr. Grothman: (02:31:23)
Yeah. Pastor McBride-
Michael McBride: (02:31:23)
And so I do want to push back on this idea that there are no outrage.
Speaker 3: (02:31:33)
Mr. Grothman, your time has expired.
Michael McBride: (02:31:34)
There is outrage.
Mr. Grothman: (02:31:34)
Okay. I do have one more question.
Speaker 3: (02:31:34)
Your time has expired.
Mr. Grothman: (02:31:34)
Speaker 3: (02:31:37)
Next, we will go to Ms. Porter.
Mr. Grothman: (02:31:40)
Rep. Porter: (02:31:42)
Hello. Thank you all for being here. My colleague on the other side of the aisle just referenced the gentlemen from Minneapolis who died. Say his name. George Floyd, that is who died. And that is what’s prompting this long-overdue continued national discussion about what we’re going to do about the systemic racism in this country, which manifests itself in our police system, but in so many other aspects of our country as well.
Rep. Porter: (02:32:12)
I wanted to talk today, on June 19th, on Juneteenth, a really important, significant day in our country’s history for all of us, but especially for our black community. Most people really don’t know about Juneteenth. I know growing up in rural Iowa in the 1980s, we didn’t learn what Juneteenth was in school. And even as I went off to college and was an American studies major, even my own exposure to black studies and African-American history and experience in this country was more limited than it should have been.
Rep. Porter: (02:32:48)
And this really hasn’t changed today. In 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center surveyed social studies teachers and high school seniors to understand how American slavery is taught in our schools, and the findings were really alarming. More than a third of students thought that the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery, not the 13th Amendment. They weren’t aware of that. Nearly 60% of teachers didn’t believe that their textbooks’ coverage of slavery was adequate. And I won’t even get into how our teachers are constrained by curriculums, by textbooks, and by testing. There are just so many parts of this country’s history that we have intentionally overlooked, that we have shielded ourselves from viewing, that we have hidden our eyes from seeing, that have been wiped from our history books.
Rep. Porter: (02:33:42)
Professor Crenshaw, I wanted to ask you about how we can improve education, both for children and for adults, about systemic racism and the long history of racial injustice in our communities. Can you start by briefly explaining to everyone what intersectionality is?
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:34:01)
Thank you for that question. Intersectionality is basically a framework for understanding the way that racism, sexism, and other forms of illegitimate discrimination actually come together to create burdens, obstacles and experiences that are greater than the sum of its parts. It’s basically to say that if you have an understanding of racism that doesn’t look at the way race plays out across gender, it’s limited. If your understanding of sexism doesn’t look at its intersections with race, it’s a partial understanding.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:34:40)
And I think we can see many of these examples in the conversation about policing. One issue that I mentioned earlier was sexual abuse against black women. There was a case in which police officer in Oklahoma City was accused of raping 13 black women. That is an intersectional vulnerability, but many of the organizations that fight against interpersonal violence don’t see interpersonal violence when it happens by police officer as part of their agenda. And some who fight against anti-black racism don’t often see how that intersects with patriarchy and sexism. So basically, intersectionality is saying let’s broaden the way we think about this issue because that will help us see it more clearly, and if we can see it more clearly, our solutions will follow suit.
Rep. Porter: (02:35:35)
Thank you very much for that. And how can we integrate intersectionality into educational curricula? Because I have seen, from my education to my children’s education, more effort to teach about different cultures, different people, different parts of our country’s history, but it’s treated as a unit. Like, “This is our unit on this. This is our month on this.” How can intersectionality help us create a more rich curriculum that recognizes that the experiences of black Americans are the experiences of Americans, and that this ought to be woven through our studies rather than treated as a special topic?
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:36:17)
And that is the essential question of the moment. How do we take this energy and the conversations that we’re having and make them a fundamental part of what we teach our children? And I will say that one of the challenges of intersectionality and a broader structural race understanding is that many parents and some school districts really don’t feel comfortable with interrogating our past, understanding how our past constitutes this moment.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:36:48)
To put a case in point, the African American Policy Forum has an unequal opportunity race video, it’s on YouTube. People have used it in Black History Month. They’ve used it in other occasions to try to show people when an entire group of people has been cut out and not allowed to participate, even formally, until 1965, that shapes everything. Parents got upset about this and in one local district. And the school board withdrew the unequal opportunity race and called it a “white guilt video.” So looking honestly at history is often framed as generating white guilt, and that creates the massive ignorance that we see across American society about how race and racism has shaped the baselines that now everybody takes for granted.
Rep. Porter: (02:37:44)
Thank you very much, everyone, for being here. My time has expired.
Speaker 3: (02:37:53)
Thank you, Ms. Porter. Next, we will go to Mr. Raskin.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:37:59)
Wait a minute, back to Maloney to…
Speaker 3: (02:38:03)
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:38:04)
Okay. First of all, we’re waiting for Jackie Speier. It’s good to see all of my colleagues. We’ll be seeing each other together next week and voting for this important bill. While we’re waiting for Jackie Speier, we’re trying to find her, can someone… I would like to ask Mr. Johnson. I’m so glad to have you here today. You have spent years advocating on behalf of your nephew and families across the country who have lost loved ones. And as we consider next step at sweeping reforms, what do you and those families want members of Congress to know?
Cephus Johnson: (02:38:44)
Today, here on the West Coast, the question was asked… Let’s just step back. The question was asked, is this a movement or a moment? Today, here on the West Coast, all 29 ports are shut down for eight hours in regards to police accountability and transparency. The ILWU longshoreman union Local 10, with the rest of the longshoreman ports up and down the West Coast, has stopped work today. International cargo coming into the West Coast can not enter because of what we are witnessing happening to people of color when it comes to dealing with police and the failure to be held accountable and the failure of transparency being given. I don’t want us to forget Aiyana Jones, seven years old, killed in Detroit, the same way Breonna was killed, and because of our failure to pay attention to these type of murders and to learn from them, Breonna Taylor, as you know, was murdered. Aiyana Jones was seven years old. We go to Isadore Monroe, 107 years old, and yet a SWAT team kicked down his door and murdered him.
Cephus Johnson: (02:40:01)
No person of color, irregardless of your age, is excused from being murdered by these rogue police officers. And again, we know there’s good police officers that exist. However, the good police officers need to hear our cry, and that is to become accountable, to hold those bad officers accountable, and to begin to have them removed from the system. And accountability, with that type of help, will eradicate this problem that we have today.
Cephus Johnson: (02:40:31)
But it’s also important to also understand that I believe that though I have fought for legislation for the last seven, eight years, AB-71, use of force data collection in the State of California to the Department of Justice. AB-953, the Racial Identification Profiling Act. Up to SB-1421, the right to know, AB-748, the video/audio release. And just recently, the most strict use of force legislation in the nation, AB-392.
Cephus Johnson: (02:41:05)
Now the question is, are our agencies locally and statewide abiding by the laws that are being passed? I say no. And so it requires, on a national level, that the Department of Justice get involved and creating national legislation that these agencies are held accountable to abide by. That in itself would begin to help, I hope, begin to end the murders that we see happening consistently by these rogue police officers. But it’s a call out from us family members that the good officers come on our side and begin to cross that blue line so those bad officers can be arrested, charged, convicted, and sent to jail. Johannes Mehserle, the murderer of my nephew, is the only officer in the state of California, the most deadliest state in this country, to ever been arrested, charged, convicted, and sent to jail. He only did 11 months.
Cephus Johnson: (02:42:04)
So that takes us to the other question. Just because we get an officer arrested and convicted, does that mean that the DA does not fail? Does that mean that the judges that sit on these cases does not, as Robert Perry claimed, give the jury bad instructions, and therefore reduce the time that they’re supposed to do, which happens on a regular, consistent basis? So we have much work to do, but I believe that there is a real movement that has taken place, and when labor comes on board, we will really then see the impact of this movement.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:42:46)
Thank you so much. And I believe Jackie Speier is available now, is that correct?
Keturah Herron: (02:42:58)
Hello. Madam Chair, can you hear me?
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:43:01)
[inaudible 02:43:01] can.
Keturah Herron: (02:43:03)
Thank you. I want to thank you, Madam Chair, for bringing this powerful panel together. I have just one question, and it probably should be addressed to [inaudible 02:43:15]…
Keturah Herron: (02:43:14)
…feeds into the deaths of so many of these innocent victims is the number of guns we have in the United States. When you look at the number of deaths due… Deaths by police officers per year, I think it’s [inaudible 02:43:45] thousand in the United States, and Canada, [inaudible 02:43:49] none. And I’m just curious from the panelists, to what extent do we also attribute this brutality to the fact that there are so many guns in our society?
Michael McBride: (02:44:06)
It is without a doubt that proliferation of weapons in the United States is certainly an issue. And yet, we know that there are ways and strategies to reduce gun violence in our country without having to fall into Second Amendment fight. And so, we do believe that these strategies that have been championed by so many across the country, cities like Oakland, Stockton, Camden, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, have decreased gun violence in their cities by 30% on the low end and 70% on the high end in less than 24 months.
Michael McBride: (02:44:42)
And so a comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy, we think, is about limiting the illegal trafficking of weapons, but also scaling up public health interventions that can indeed leverage the tax base of our local municipalities in ways that help us rely less and less on the kinds of policing strategies that cause civil rights abuses, that cause the kind of criminalization and collective punishment of all communities. So these strategies are at our disposal. The Breaking the Cycle of Violence Act is a wonderful start, and we hope that as we talk about police violence and the concerns about public safety, we can indeed talk about the solution to those fears being these strategies that are championed by so many across the country.
Speaker 3: (02:45:37)
Does any of the other panelists want to answer that question, too?
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:45:42)
I think I would like to just point out a couple of problems with the way in which much of the conversation about gun violence undervalues the concerns of African-American gun owners. There seems to be a functional reality that African-American gun owners are basically operating under a sort of lower form of protection of their Second Amendment.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:46:17)
Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend was initially arrested and charged with attempted murder because he exercised what he thought was his right to protect his family from what looked like a break-in. The same thing has happened with Philando Castile, and Korryn Gaines also had a registered firearm, which she initially said that she had when she thought the police were people breaking into her home. She ended up being killed after Facebook turned off her stream of her effort to protect herself and her child.
Kimberle Crenshaw: (02:47:00)
So while it is utterly significant and important to be concerned about gun violence, it’s also important to be concerned about what appears to be the disparity. No one I know thinks that African-Americans could march into a state capitol and have a standoff with officers with legislators inside holding guns. We very much are concerned about the disparity and the asymmetry in those Second Amendment rights.
Keturah Herron: (02:47:37)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:47:42)
[inaudible 02:47:42] is recognized for a question. [inaudible 02:47:46] she’s doing… Hi, Mr. Ra… Jackie, are you finished?
Keturah Herron: (02:47:50)
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:47:51)
Mr. Raskin is recognized for a question.
Chair Raskin: (02:47:55)
Thank you, Madam Chair. I’ve got one final question for Reverend McBride. Professor Crenshaw made the powerful point in answer to Representative Porter that too often, people interpret the effort just to educate about the actual history of our country as an effort to impose guilt on white people. And I saw an interesting speech by Bryan Stevenson where he said that this moment in our history is not about assigning guilt and punishment to the mass population. It’s about liberation and about us liberating ourselves from the injustices and the cruelties of the past.
Chair Raskin: (02:48:36)
And I wonder… This occurred to me when I had a constituent who called who was a Republican whose children had gone down to protest at the White House, and they got caught up in that unidentified police/paramilitary riot that Bill Barr and President Trump unleashed on the protesters in Lafayette Square with rubber bullets and tear gas and pepper spray. And he said he could not believe that his family was treated like that. I’m wondering if you would reflect a little bit about what’s in this, not just for the African-American community, but for all Americans, for us to take away this power of arbitrary violence that the police, or some police officers, have arrogated to themselves.
Michael McBride: (02:49:22)
I am convinced, as a victim of violence and even as someone who has worked with law enforcement officers through procedural justice training, and even other forms of training, that violence erases your humanity. It erases your capacity to have compassion. It erases your ability to respond to people with gentleness, tenderness, and patience. It steals your soul and it steals your heart. And I believe that the importance of this country, as Dr. King says, the greatest exporter of violence in the world is the United States government, the apparatus and the appendages of our government at the local and even national level must become less addicted to violence so our souls can be redeemed and our bodies can be saved. It is indeed all of us at this moment. We have an opportunity to do what 300 years of previous law makers and citizens have been unable to do, to begin to build a community and a system and a structure and a nation that is not dominated by the forces of violence and dehumanization that is at work, and it is ubiquitous.
Michael McBride: (02:50:41)
So I say to all of our countrymen, countrywomen, loved ones, that violence is not the way for us to secure peace. It is an illusion. If violence must be the solution for the kinds of issues that we are facing, there are other ways to use our tax dollars, our talents, our gifts, our human ingenuity to solve our worst condition. Violence cannot be our tool. It must be our ultimate, ultimate, last resort, and right now, it is our first option in too many instances.
Chair Raskin: (02:51:14)
Well, thank you very much. That’s a beautiful evocation of Reverend King and his message of nonviolence is something that would be the salvation of everybody in America, of all races and creeds, and people in uniform as well. We have got to move towards nonviolence as a society. I yield back, Madam Chair.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:51:37)
Thank you. I want to thank all of our briefers. You were all very insightful and inspiring. We thank you for being here today. And I just want to respond to Uncle Bobby’s statement that impacted people do have a voice. We will not forget what you feel, what you’ve gone through, and what you’ve expressed today. And we are grateful to all of you for your presence, your voice, and everything that you’ve expressed today.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:52:09)
I encourage all of my colleagues to vote for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We must not let this moment pass us by, and in the words of our former chairman, Elijah Cummings, we can and we must do better. I thank the staff. I thank all the members. I especially thank our briefers today for their insight, their experience, their wisdom. And we will carry that to the floor of Congress when we vote next week, and we will carry it to our colleagues in Congress, as we work for the passage of this important bill. Thank you, and I yield back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:52:49)