23
January , 2018
Tuesday

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and CBC Members held a press conference immediately following the release of the Department of Justice report on Ferguson to discuss the urgent need for criminal justice reform.

The following remarks were issued by CBC Chairman Butterfield.

Statement by Congressman G. K. Butterfield, Chairman, Congressional Black Caucus In Response to DOJ Report on Ferguson Police Department

Just a few minutes ago, Attorney General Eric Holder released a comprehensive 102 page report on police misconduct in the City of Ferguson, Missouri.

Many Americans may find this reporting surprising; but to us in the Congressional Black Caucus it simply reaffirms that which we already know.  For years, the Congressional Black Caucus has asserted that Black Americans are treated unfairly and disproportionally in the criminal justice system.  We know it because we represent those communities and we see it every day.  I know it because I served as a trial judge for many years and saw abuses at the law enforcement level and in the administration of justice.  Police bias and excessive use of force are real in the African American community.

The Report finds that from routine traffic stops, to the number of arrests made, the police department in the city of Ferguson routinely violates the constitutional rights and civil liberties of Black residents more than other residents.

  • Ferguson law enforcement efforts are focused on generating revenue and their practices violate the law and undermine community trust, especially among African Americans.
  • The Ferguson Police Department engages in a pattern of unconstitutional stops and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment and also engages in a pattern of First Amendment violations.
  • The Ferguson Police Department engages in a pattern of First Amendment violations.
  • The Ferguson Police Department engages in a pattern of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
  • The Ferguson Municipal Court practices impose substantial and unnecessary barriers to the challenge or resolution of municipal code violations and impose unduly harsh penalties for missed payments or appearances.

There is a well-founded mistrust between the African-American community and law enforcement officers. The statistics are clear. Video clips are clear. We recognize the overwhelming majority of law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities, and most of them are doing it well.  But unfortunately, there are some officers who abuse the sacred responsibility to protect and to serve by using excessive and sometimes deadly force when a less severe response is warranted.

This is a transformative moment for our country and Congress has a critical role to play in helping to restore trust in the criminal justice system to ensure that every American is treated equally before the law.

Black residents in Ferguson have called for justice on this disparity for many years.  Their calls were ignored.  The world now knows the truth about Ferguson.

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