Progressive leader on housing, health care and education will help bring needed focus to pressing, community-driven reforms to policing and racial bias.
Seattle – State Representative Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) is calling for urgent legislative action on a package to address law enforcement training, conduct, and funding.
“For many days, Americans across the nation have peacefully taken to the streets throughout the nation to demand that elected leaders address systemic racism, police brutality, and the unacceptable loss of black lives at the hands of police.
Here in Seattle, we have seen an outpouring of support not only for bringing the officers who killed George Floyd to justice, but making reforms to policing and confronting structural racism to prevent these tragedies in the future and address the underlying legacy of racial inequality that too often manifests in brutality and bias.
I am energized to see a variety of reforms suggested by community leaders, legislative colleagues, and city and county elected officials. I am eager to work together on these issues and pledge to do everything in my power to help advance a reform package in preparation for the next legislative session.
As a lifelong community organizer, I know that my first responsibility is to listen to the needs and priorities of impacted communities and translate what I learn into legislative action.
To that end, here are some ideas for reform that myself and others are working to carry out. Based on what I’ve heard from community leaders, I believe we need to take action to:
- Permanently ban the use of tear gas, a toxic chemical that endangers people’s health, made all the more evident with the COVID pandemic.
- Prohibit law enforcement officers from covering up any portion of badge. Local jurisdictions can find other ways to express mourning without obscuring names and badges.
- Prohibit law enforcement agencies from accepting surplus military equipment.
- Further restrict use of excessive or deadly force by police.
- Require state collection of data on police use of force.
- Strengthen de-escalation and anti-bias training for all law enforcement officers.
- Establish disciplinary actions for law enforcement officials who engage in hate speech.
- Require hiring practices and annual reviews to include PTSD evaluation and access to mental health services.
There are other ideas and proposals that I have endorsed, and that should be advanced. As we move forward, I will take my cues from communities of color and work for both immediate reforms and long-term solutions. Although I don’t control funding for the Seattle Police Department, I support local efforts to reinvest police funding in programs that support the community’s health, housing and well-being.
The district I represent has been an epicenter of the marches and rallies that are driving this change. I want to thank all of those who have lent their voices to this critical moment in our history, helping bring Black Lives Matter and the fight for racial equity to an inflection point.
The steps we take now are part of a longer journey toward a society that confronts centuries of racism and makes the changes needed to truly make this a nation where Black, Indigenous, and people of color are treated with respect and where equity is not a soundbite, but a reality.
I’m committed to this work with the focus and energy I’ve always brought to promoting social justice and making investments in low income, immigrant, and underrepresented communities. Working together we have made record investments in affordable housing, expanded early learning, basic education, free college and university tuition for all low-income students, and greatly expanded health care for all.
I know we can apply the same energy and progressive unity to make needed reforms and honor the memory of Charleena Lyles, John T. Williams, Che Taylor and other Black and Indigenous people who’ve been killed by the police. These tragedies must end. Black Lives Matter.”