SACRAMENTO - With photos of young unarmed men killed by law enforcement displayed behind them, including Michael Brown, who was buried today, members of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) both denounced escalating violence against men of color by law enforcement and committed themselves to pursuing tangible policies that address this issue in California, including the increased militarization of police departments across the state.
“In 2012, white officers killed black suspects about twice a week in the United States, or an average of 96 times,” cited Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego), who facilitated the discussion at the press conference, entitled Young, Black and Unarmed, held at the California State Capitol.
“Why? I have to say that we are dealing with a systemic and persistent form of racism that allows guilt to be presumed and the assumption that violence is inevitable when dealing with black youth,
.” she said.
CLBC Chair, Senator Holly Mitchell (D- Los Angeles) stated: “Young, black, unarmed men are dying at a disproportionate rate whenever there is an interaction with law enforcement; from Oscar Grant to Michael Brown to Ezell Ford, these men had brief encounters with white police officers and instead of having a chance to defend themselves in a court of law, they lost their lives.”
Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Boys and Men of Color noted that there had been four law-enforcement killings of black youth in the last month alone.
“We need to address this lack of value for African American life”, he said
CLBC members agreed that they need to explore the increased acquisition of military style equipment, including tanks, for use in towns and cities as a means of deescalating incidents between law enforcement and members of communities of color.
In a statement released last week, the CLBC) affirmed that the solution to these problems lies in the creation of tangible policies that benefit young men of color across California. The CLBC has advocated for courses of action to expand early childhood education, boost funding for K-12 public schools and enhance access to rehabilitative services while also increasing the number of Californians who have health insurance. These policies not only improve the outcomes for young black men, but further the development of all people, despite their class, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.