CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said a historic bill in Washington D.C. can make significant changes to hold law enforcement accountable for incidents including racial profiling and choke holds.
Durbin (D-IL) was joined by local faith leaders and participated in the Spirit of King march on Chicago’s West Side to draw attention to a bill that, he said, would curb racial injustices that affect those who are arrested and what law enforcement can do to suspects.
The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would, among other things, ban “no-knock” warrants, end racial and religious profiling (and mandate training on discriminatory profiling) and hold officers accountable in court.
“It’s a matter of life and death as we learned on the streets of Minneapolis. But beyond that, we have to talk about what it takes to move us into a society which eliminates racism and moves forward to help those who need a helping hand,” Durbin said. The senator added that those fighting inequality and injustice need to be protected by federal laws.
“Those who need help a hammer facing racism many times at every level, not just law enforcement, but education and health care and housing, the list goes on and on.”
Part of that list includes mental health, according to Durbin, and how young people need the help of counselors which may not be available at all schools.
“If there is a young African American child and school in Chicago who has gone through a life changing traumatic experience, how is that child going to be reached and changed and helped? We know that in that school is unlikely there’ll be a nurse or a counselor, there may be a policeman a security officer,” Durbin said, who added that mental health initiatives are part of law enforcement.
“And the question is, what is best in this circumstance to make sure that child chooses to join a gang of productive positive law abiding people, as opposed to a gang on the street corner? I think that counselor is critically important at that point in that child’s life,” the senator said.
Durbin said the Senate would reconvene next week to further discuss the measure in the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said he hopes it’s the first of many “honest” conversations regarding race and law enforcement.
“It’s about redefining law enforcement to be more effective when we need it,” Durbin said.