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Coalition of Civil Rights Organizations on Police Reform Honor Lives of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin as Death Anniversaries Near

For Immediate Release February 6, 2015

National Groups Highlight Ongoing Need for Nationwide Reforms,
Including Accountability to Address Police Brutality and Misconduct

Washington, D.C. – Today national civil and human rights organizations join to honor the lives and sacrifice of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and their families. Through their deaths others may live in a better society.  The Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform has worked tirelessly with lawmakers, the Department of Justice, the White House and community leaders across the country to foster better relations between communities of color and law enforcement.

As February 9 approaches, we recognize the six-month anniversary of Michael Brown’s lethal shooting by Officer Darren Wilson and also the three-year shooting death anniversary of Trayvon Martin on February 26. Killed under different circumstances, both young men’s shooting deaths underscore the coalition’s call for accountability in such cases nationwide where Black men, women and youth continue to be killed or brutalized.

As a result of the diligence of this Coalition; the nationwide movement for police reform, including youth activists; and the commitment of policymakers some advancements have been made:

  • Civil Rights Investigations by the Department of Justice in several cases, including deaths of Eric Garner (NY), Michael Brown (MO), and Tamir Rice (OH)
  • The Attorney General’s Smart on Crime Initiative
  • The Release of Federal Racial Profiling Guidance
  • President Obama’s expected Executive Order calling for funding for law enforcement agencies to purchase body-worn cameras and improve training (This is a step in the right direction, but more funding is needed to broaden this effort)
  • White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing Report (in progress); The coalition will soon release a checklist regarding the recommended actions

  • Engagement in the development of state and local legislative policy reforms regarding racial profiling and police accountability

  • Extensive national media coverage highlighting necessary reforms

  • Extensive community “Know Your Rights” outreach and education by groups, including virtual town halls regarding the national epidemic of police brutality and misconduct and associated laws and legal procedures, including grand jury processes and other accountability measures

  • Increased community involvement among millennials, across racial and gender lines

As we celebrate the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and the lives of countless other men, women and youth who have been victimized by police brutality and gun violence, we continue to call for comprehensive reforms and recommendations as they Rest In Power.

Background on Coalition
A coalition of 14 national civil and human rights organizations and leaders issued a Unified Statement of Action to Promote Reform and Stop Police Abuse on August 18th, which cited clear and necessary recommendations and reforms. We will continue to work together to ensure that all of our recommendations and reforms are adopted and justice is brought to bear in Ferguson. Seven additional groups and more than 700 independent signatories have joined the open letter which was sent to the White House and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

We reiterate our call for transparency, accountability, leadership, and training, including:

  • Passage of the End Racial Profiling Act  expected to be re-introduced in the U.S. Senate by and in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • A full accounting of police-involved killings of African Americans nationwide;
  • Mandatory racial bias and sensitivity training for all law enforcement personnel;
  • The required use of police officer Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) to record every police-civilian encounter;
  • Better accountability of the use and potential distribution and use of federal military weapons by local law enforcement; and
  • Greater oversight of police officers through the formation of both national and community-based policing commissions.
  • Grand jury reform

About The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers' Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers' Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of "Moving America Toward Justice." The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers' Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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