Take Action on Racial Justice in the Commonwealth
The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts publicly declared on June 1, 2020: "We commit as individuals and as a League to hold ourselves accountable: to listen to Black voices in our communities and the Commonwealth, to educate ourselves better and stand against the racism prevalent in our society, and to advocate for policies and practices to eliminate systemic racism in Massachusetts."
 
Therefore, the LWVMA commits to racial justice in the Commonwealth by supporting concepts presented in the following racial justice bills. We will update you on legislation being filed by Speaker DeLeo and Governor Baker in the coming days, which will likely include some of the provisions in these measures. In the interim, ask your legislators to support the aims of these four bills. Find your legislators' email addresses here :
 
HD.5128/SD.2968, An Act Relative to Saving Black Lives and Transforming Public SafetyRep. Liz Miranda and Sen. Cynthia Creem:
  • Bans chokeholds, no knock warrants, tear gas, and hiring abusive officers.
  • Requires the Attorney General to create a uniform protocol for all law enforcement to report and investigate the use of physical force that results in emergency medical care, hospitalization, or death
  • Creates a "duty to intervene" when an officer witnesses abuse and lack of intervention
 
H.1440, An Act establishing a special commission on structural racism, Rep. Russell Holmes:
Create a commission to identify, analyze, and propose solutions to eradicate systemic racism within all aspects the criminal justice system in Massachusetts.
 
H.2146, Resolve providing for a "Special Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training" to study and make recommendations concerning the implementation of a Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) system , Rep. Russell Holmes and Rep. David Vieira:
Establish a commission to implement a statewide system to certify local police officers and enable de-certification for misconduct and abuse.
 
H.2292, An Act to reform civil service exams Rep. Russell Holmes:
  • Examines testing, qualification and hiring processes for state and local police officers, and ensures implementation of community policing, procedural justice, and cultural inclusivity.
  • Creates statewide Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity.
 
Please see the Ten-Point Plan to Address Police Violence and Advance Racial Justice issued by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus June 2 in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The League has taken strong positions on racism:
 
From LWVMA Statement 6/1/2020:
"We commit as individuals and as a League to hold ourselves accountable: to listen to Black voices in our communities and the Commonwealth, to educate ourselves better and stand against the racism prevalent in our society, and to advocate for policies and practices to eliminate systemic racism in Massachusetts."
 
From LWVUS Statement  5/29/2020 on death of George Floyd: 
"We must all advocate for anti-racist policies at every level of government."
 
LWVUS coalition letter: 
LWVUS signed a letter with over 400 civil rights organizations calling on Congress to implement needed policing reforms. The letter urges congressional leadership to swiftly rectify the legacy of white supremacy and anti-black racism that has led to police violence against Black people across our country. "Congress must rectify these structural wrongs through legislation before another Black life is needlessly lost."
 
"Now is the time for Congress to pass meaningful police reform legislation. While we appreciate hearings and resolutions, we need comprehensive measures enacted. We need Congress to advance meaningful legislation to protect Black communities from the systemic perils of over policing, police brutality, misconduct, and harassment, and end the impunity with which officers operate in taking the lives of Black people."
 
From Virginia Kase, LWVUS CEO, blog 6/3/2020:
"As a democracy and voting rights organization, we must be part of the progress that is catalyzed at this moment. In the coming weeks and months, we will be supporting our partners in the civil rights community who are working on legislation and policy reforms focused on creating systemic change in our government institutions, starting with unjust policing." Additionally she stated, "Now, more than ever, it's clear that our work to inform voters and hold government accountable on the local and state level is where real potential for change lies."
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