Racial Justice Priorities

Now is a moment for decisive action from the Jewish community on police reform. In response to calls from our allies in the Black community, including Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Council President Kim Janey, City Councilor Andrea Campbell, and members of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Caucus, JCRC endorses the following bills to create meaningful reform:

An Act to reform police standards and shift resources to build a more equitable, fair and just commonwealth that values Black lives and communities of color - Click here to read our testimony
(S2820/H4860)
Would create a system for certifying and decertifying officers, impose limits on the use of force, eliminate qualified immunity, ban use of facial recognition technology statewide for one year, and allow school districts to opt out of having an officer on-site.

An Act to Save Black Lives
(HD5128, filed by Rep. Liz Miranda & SD2968, filed by Sen. Cynthia Creem)

This bill would re-write the rules on use of force and establish serious, enforceable consequences for violations. It would reduce the role of police in situations where social interventions are safer and more effective; require police to use de-escalation techniques and tactics; limit force to the minimum amount necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose; require that any use of force be proportional; require other officers to intervene if they witness an excessive use of force; and ban police use of choke holds, rubber bullets, tear gas, attack dogs, and no-knock warrants. It would also mandate data collection on injuries and deaths caused by police and other law enforcement officers, make records of police misconduct public, and explicitly recognize that police violence is a danger to public health.

An Act to Secure Civil Rights
(H.3277, filed by Rep. Michael Day)
This bill would fix the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act to enable people whose rights have been violated to secure redress in court. Laws and policies that are supposed to hold police accountable are meaningless without a strong enforcement mechanism. The MCRA is supposed to be that mechanism, but unfortunately the current law is broken. This bill would fix language in the statute requiring a plaintiff to show that a violation of rights was accompanied by “threats, intimidation or coercion,” which courts have interpreted to let officers off the hook for many direct violations of rights, even ones involving terrible physical abuse. It would also eliminate in Massachusetts the judicial doctrine known as “qualified immunity,” which shields police from liability if the right that was violated was not “clearly established.” Today, it is not uncommon for courts to acknowledge that the police violated a constitutional right, but still fail to hold the officer liable because of qualified immunity.

Congresswoman Pressley’s resolution condemning police brutality, racial profiling, and the excessive use of force

Resolve providing for a "Special Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training" to Study and Make Recommedations Concerning the Implementation of a Peace Officers Standards and Training (Post) System
(Rep Holmes/Rep Vieira)
Resolve to provide for a “Special Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training” to study and make recommendations concerning the implementation of a statewide Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) system that certifies police officers and enable de-certification for misconduct and abuse.

An Act to Reform Civil Service Exams
(Rep Holmes)
Establishes an Office of Diversity and Equal opportunity to establish guidelines and review for diversity plans for all state agencies, establishes a peace officer exam advisory board to review examinations for appointment and promotion of peace officers.

An Act Establishing a Special Commission on Structural Racism
(Rep. Holmes)
Establishes a commission to study how the systemic presence of institutional racism has created a culture of structural racial inequality which has exacerbated disproportionate minority contact with the criminal justice system in Massachusetts.