A delegation of mothers of sons who were victims of police brutality are demanding Congress pass federal legislation that would hold police accountable nationwide
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: On Capitol Hill this Wednesday, mothers came to Congress. A delegation of Mothers Against Police Brutality met with congressional leaders to make their demands heard.
JERALYNN BLUEFORD, MOTHERS AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY: I demand that you stop this militarization of the police force. The police officers are not in war. They are here to protect and serve as the community and to help each and every one make our world a better place. And what they are doing is making it worse and worse and breaking us down and taking our youth and stealing our hope away. And I demand that it must stop today.
Jeralynn Blueford’s 18-year-old son Allen was shot and killed by a police officer in Oakland, California, two years ago. She, like the other mothers, are calling for accountability and justice. They have a list of demands that they’re fighting for. For example, they want all law enforcement, when involved in an officer-involved shooting of an unarmed citizen, to submit to a blood test within an hour of that shooting. Also, they want all officers nationwide to wear body cameras.
Collette Flanagan is the founder of the organization.
COLLETTE FLANAGAN, MOTHERS AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY: There is nothing that will prepare you for the fact that the very institution that you taught your child to respect took his life. It breaks the social contract.
DESVARIEUX: Flanagan said district attorneys, judges, and police officers are often so intermingled that they don’t want to step out of bounds and prosecute one of their own. She said that’s why the officer involved in the killing of her unarmed 25-year-old son was never indicted, even after shooting him seven times.
FLANAGAN: Now, all in officer has to say is that I feared for my life. It’s their free get out of jail card. So we have to start asking questions: when did you stop fearing for your life? Was it after the first shot? The second shot? The third shot? The fourth shot? The fifth shot? Six shot? Seventh shot? When do they stop fearing for their lives?
DESVARIEUX: Politicians like Michigan Representative John Conyers and Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia showed their support for these mothers. Congressman Johnson earlier this week recited a poem on the upon the House floor titled titled “I Can’t Breathe”.
HANK JOHNSON, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (D-GA): Black lives matter. Hear my pleas. I can’t breathe.
DESVARIEUX: The Real News spoke with Congressman Johnson about a system of justice he calls two-tiered.
JOHNSON: The two-tiered justice system treats the rich and wealthy one way and then regular working people and poor people a different way. The rich and powerful have the opportunity to get what’s called deferred prosecution agreements. It would provide that you pay X number of dollars. We will then use that money to hire a monitoring firm, a law firm. Let’s say John Ashcroft might be the head of it. He gets a lot of money to monitor your future conduct. And then, after a certain period of time elapses, then the charges are dismissed. And so you don’t have a criminal record.
DESVARIEUX: He also pointed to the war on drugs as another issue fueling police brutality.
JOHNSON: The war on drugs has been the biggest losing war that America has ever fought, and it’s time for us to call it off, find a new way. Decriminalization and, in fact, legalization are topics of discussion that we need to have this country.
DESVARIEUX: Texas Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee showed her solidarity with the mothers and encouraged everyone, regardless of their race, to be a part of this movement.
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (D-TX): We marched in the ’60s and we looked all colors. Today on the streets of Berkeley, New York, Houston, Chicago, St. Louis, and elsewhere, Ferguson, the faces are diverse, because America has something in her DNA called the higher angels. We’ve just got to pull it out, because the Constitution is worded in such a way that those who wrote it, despite their intent, those languages, those words come and would question all of this. So if you’ve got to walk with dignity in your pain, carry a Constitution around.
DESVARIEUX: A Constitution some argue did not have these black women in mind when drafted. But despite this, these women say their hearts are full of hope that their actions will lead to police accountability in order to stop one more wrongful death.
BLUEFORD: There is to be no more Eric Garners. There is to be no more Mike Browns. There is to be no more of my sisters that stand here as we shed our tears. We didn’t know that we were all coming in black, but we all come in mourning and in pain and in grief. If you can support them and fund them to kill, you can support us and fund us and help us here. Thank you.
DESVARIEUX: For The Real News Network, Jessica Desvarieux, Washington.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.