NAACP National President and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement in response to the United States Department of Justice Report outlining systemic civil rights violations practiced by the Baltimore City Police Department:
“The United States Department of Justice report is a damning indictment of the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) in particular and American policing in general. When you translate the data in this report into lives harmed, “stop and frisk” really means detain, demean and dehumanize. Zero tolerance shows no respect to the Constitution.
“While some may find this report shocking, it simply confirms what people living and working in Baltimore have known for years – that police officers unfairly target African-American residents for unnecessary stops, searches, and arrests in aggressive and discriminatory ways that violate not only their constitutional rights, but also destroy the trust necessary to truly police its citizens.
The NAACP recognizes the release of the DOJ report as an opportunity for our communities to address the nationwide crisis in policing and to seek concrete change. Communities can take the important step of getting their elected officials and candidates to publicly commit to police reform by signing the NAACP’s Protect and
Preserve Our Lives Pledge.
The pledge increases police accountability and transparency by (1) cutting funding to law enforcement agencies that discriminate and by requiring (2) effective investigation of discrimination by law enforcement agencies, (3) detailed data gathering and reporting, (4) comprehensive use of force standards, and (5) independent review of police violence. The DOJ report shows that these reforms are essential to rebuilding the broken relationships between police and the communities they serve.
No funding for discriminatory policing: Baltimore taxpayers have been paying for a police department that routinely discriminates against its citizens. The report found that the BPD engages in a “Zero Tolerance” enforcement strategy that results in aggressive and unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests of pedestrians; engages in racially discriminatory policing, violates protestors’ First Amendment rights, and uses excessive force and unnecessarily escalates situations, with particular deficiencies in the treatment of juveniles and persons with mental illness. Paying to be discriminated against just compounds the injustice. The threat of defunding can be a powerful tool for change.