WASHINGTON — Members of the Congressional Black Caucus stood before the doors of the Department of Justice on Thursday and demanded a greater reaction from Attorney General Loretta Lynch to repeated instances of police shooting black men.
Their trip down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol was a response to the deadly shootings of black men by police in Tulsa, Okla., and Charlotte, N.C.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., told reporters at the news conference that members decided at their caucus’ lunch meeting Wednesday they couldn’t go about their normal business anymore.
“We must do something to end this assault on our communities,” Waters said. “We will not continue to ask our constituents to be patient without any hope for change.”
Waters and caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield met with Lynch and dropped off a letter outlining what they’re hoping to see from the country’s first black female attorney general.
“The Department of Justice must aggressively pursue investigations, indictments and yes, prosecution, against any and all law enforcement officers who … kill unarmed, innocent African-American citizens,” Butterfield said.
They want nationwide standards on the use of force, better training for officers and broad use of police body cameras. Many caucus members are also pursuing specific legislation, and a bipartisan group created by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., after the shooting of two other black men by police earlier this summer in Louisiana and Minnesota has been meeting for weeks.
The caucus is asking Lynch “to be a Justice Department that’s going to ensure quality and justice under the law for everyone,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said. “This is long overdue, they have to step up now.”
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who has been an advocate for police reform for decades and has worked with Black Lives Matter activists in her district, said it was important for the Congressional Black Caucus to physically go to the Justice Department.
“It is an issue that is very, very important to me. So, for me to stand with my colleagues in the Black Caucus, was an important thing to do,” Bass said. “It’s really important to make a statement that communities across the nation can see that the Congressional Black Caucus is very serious.”
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