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‘Hands Up Act’ would punish police for shooting unarmed citizens

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‘Hands Up Act’ would punish police for shooting unarmed citizens

Travis Washington, a graduate student studying higher education from Flossmoor, poses with his hands behind his head on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Travis stated he believes the Hands Up Act will bring down tension with the police department because it provides protection for unarmed citizens.

Travis Washington, a graduate student studying higher education from Flossmoor, poses with his hands behind his head on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Travis stated he believes the Hands Up Act will bring down tension with the police department because it provides protection for unarmed citizens.

Carson VanBuskirk | @carsonvanbDE

Travis Washington, a graduate student studying higher education from Flossmoor, poses with his hands behind his head on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Travis stated he believes the Hands Up Act will bring down tension with the police department because it provides protection for unarmed citizens.

Carson VanBuskirk | @carsonvanbDE

Carson VanBuskirk | @carsonvanbDE

Travis Washington, a graduate student studying higher education from Flossmoor, poses with his hands behind his head on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Travis stated he believes the Hands Up Act will bring down tension with the police department because it provides protection for unarmed citizens.

By Emily Cooper, Staff Reporter

UPDATE: You can view the petition discussed in the article by clicking this link. 

Travis Washington, a graduate student at SIU, is attempting to push for a piece of legislation that would make it illegal for police officers to shoot someone if the person is found without a weapon.

“The ‘Hands Up Act” was an idea I created to prevent police officers from shooting unarmed citizens,” Washington said. “We’ve seen all over the country, where citizens have been shot unarmed without any guns in their hands, such as Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. After they were shot unarmed, these officers have never served any prison sentences.”


Washington said that officers who shoot someone who is unarmed should serve a 15 year mandatory sentence, per the act.

“What inspired me to do it [is] a disconnect between the community and police officers,” Washington said. “If we want to rebuild this trust, we need laws in order to regain the trust.”

Washington said that minorities are scared to call the police in various situations because they fear for their lives.

Another reason Washington is attempting to get the legislation passed because of resonating quote from Martin Luther King – ‘injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.’

“I have already emailed 102 U.S. [representatives], Democracy Now, and the Huffington Post. I want them to take what I have written seriously,” Washington said. “Also, the College Democrats of America, the National Civil Rights Museum and the NAACP shared my petition.”

Washington said he has emailed the NAACP and the Lorraine Motel, where King died. He said they’re going to post his petition on their website and have already shared it on their Facebook page.

“Travis and I were just having a conversation the one day about the level of allowance of police brutality, and he wanted to start a movement about it,” Yazmyne Adams, a senior studying accounting, said. “I told him that he had to start a petition about it.”

Adams said every time you look on Facebook, the internet, or watch the news – it’s always something new.

“I don’t think that it should be constantly allowed seeing how others are trying to make changes for the better in the world,” Adams said.

Washington has been working on this since December.

“For the person who shot Terence Crutcher to get their job back is incredibly disheartening and upsetting to the family members who have lost their loved one,” Washington said. “I hope that it will renew better relations with public safety and the community because I’m pro-police, it’s just there are individuals who taint the police department.”

Washington said the only obstacle he has faced during this process is not enough people knowing about it.

“If people really wanted to see a change they need to sign this petition,” Shanlane Scott, a junior studying Criminology & Criminal Justice, said.

Scott said if they we able to get more signatures it would help, so when it is time to talk to more people and political powers he will have more weight.

“One of my goals is to speak at any rally that will let me to speak in,” Washington said. “Like speaking in front of the state legislator, if I have to, or the House of Representatives on national television during the committee hearing.”

Washington’s goal is to make it a conversation starter, he said. If it’s a conversation starter more people are going to talk about it.

“It would be some type of justice,” Scott said. “We’re slowly moving to some type of equality. With law enforcement, you have to protect people, but it becomes a problem when you’re hurting unarmed people, and trying to justify by lying and saying you felt threatened.”

Scott said for the community, it would mean there’s finally some type of justice, and they’re going to slowly start feeling safe because now people in power can no longer abuse their authority. They now have to suffer the consequences.

“It would mean a lot especially to urban communities,” Scott said.

Washington said he wants to be patient and let it go where it can go.

“We need to keep pushing forward, and never give up,” Washington said. “I want the world to depend on me, that’s why I’m doing this.”

Staff reporter Emily Cooper can be reached at ecooper@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter at @ecooper212.

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24 Responses to “‘Hands Up Act’ would punish police for shooting unarmed citizens”

  1. Christena spivey on February 8th, 2019 9:40 am

    I think this is excellent law to pass. Too many cases of law enforcement killing or seriously injuring someone ,even folks with mental illness,they need boundaries and punishment as well.

  2. Quincy Kennedy on February 8th, 2019 10:40 pm

    They stopped at the point of law.
    And started at the point of gun and murder.
    We post to be read our rights innocent or guilty til proven guilty in a court of law.

  3. Ashley on February 9th, 2019 3:17 pm

    The police are here to protect not to murder people and get away with it because they are a police officer I think they should be punished if they kill someone just like anyone else

  4. Bea Dewing on February 11th, 2019 7:05 pm

    Police are sworn to serve and protect the community. This is a good beginning. Police and public officials who lie to protect a fellow officer are just as guilty and should be fired and face legal consequences too.

  5. Lora on February 11th, 2019 11:02 pm

    What is the link for the petition?

  6. Shirley McShan on February 12th, 2019 8:37 am

    Someone needs to do something and this guy got it right. Murder charges should apply to police officers just like any other citizen of this country.

  7. Ronald Webb on February 12th, 2019 12:03 pm

    They didn’t include the petition so I have posed it for anyone who is interested in signing it. https://www.change.org/p/us-senate-hands-up-act

  8. Carol Byers on February 12th, 2019 1:06 pm

    We must start somewhere on the way to equality in police action. The current and past horror stories must end with less fear and more fairness. This petition is a start.

  9. Ameera Al-hussein on February 12th, 2019 1:55 pm

    The amount of deaths have been outrageous! I cannot believe these officers have been getting away with such crimes!
    The sad part is some of the innocent people innocent and victimized clearly begged for their lives.
    I stand with this movement. Let me know what I can do to help.

  10. Kayla Orsell on February 13th, 2019 10:25 am

    where do i sign the petition? Can I get some to collect signatures too? email me please

  11. Shawn tull on February 13th, 2019 10:33 am

    Good job guys

  12. William and Cassandra Sawtelle on February 13th, 2019 11:32 am

    There should be specific trained police officers for specific communities.. Each community has different needs! They have to understand that all police officers aren’t bad… they need to be retrained or renew their training skills to be more effective! Stop stereotyping others on both sides… What you are doing is a great beginning ! Both sides of the political perspective should be involve . This a human issue! Our neighborhoods needs this! Sometimes we need to be reminded to stay focus and work for peace, each party…! There’s a common ground… It’s possible

  13. Desertphile on February 13th, 2019 7:14 pm

    Imagine needing a special law to penalize police officers who commit murder.

  14. Michelle Kenney on February 15th, 2019 2:26 pm

    I am the mother of Antwon Rose II, the UNARMED 17 year old shot and killed by East Pittsburgh, Pa police. It is heart wrenching to have to say those words out loud. I never want another mother to feel my pain. I support this movement and proposed law 100%. Please sign this petition along with me and offer your support to this legislation in every way possible.

  15. Jacob on February 15th, 2019 7:37 pm

    Thank you x1000!

  16. Tina Boyd on February 15th, 2019 9:34 pm

    Help!!! Has anyone actually tried to sign the petition? This is a truly important and necessary petition to sign! The only thing is that the link, provided above, takes you to the petition but won’t let you sign it! I have been trying to sign all day! I have clicked on the link above saying, “UPDATE: You can view the petition discussed in the article by clicking this link.” Every time I chick that link and get to the petition, then fill it out, nothing happens. Directly above the petition it says, “0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!” I’m sure many people have tried to sign this petition. There is some sort of glitch preventing our signatures to go through. I hope that the admins fix this so that we can sign. I have posted this on Facebook and would like to provide a link to a petition that can actually be signed. Please help! Thank you! <3

  17. Preston Richardson on February 15th, 2019 10:24 pm

    Does the unarmed person have to have his arms up for the officer to get punished?

  18. John W. Tisdale III on February 16th, 2019 8:01 am

    This is an excellent idea. But the petition needs to be set up the same as all other petitions are on Facebook. The people trying to sign the petition should not have to let it allow access to all the individuals contacts. I’m sure like many people, I have contacts who I do not wish to have the petition sent to. Such as place of employment, the police department, certain hard to deal with individuals, my doctor’s office, etc, etc, etc. I am going to share this post on my page, anyway. And I would choose the friends who I wished to see the petition, as well; if this were set up like every other petition on Facebook. This subject and petition is very important to me. But it should be up to me who I choose to receive it. And no one should be required to share any petition they sign with any one, because repercussions might be taken against the person signing the petition. This issue is a huge problem in our country. And every time I see these terrible killings in a news article, on TV, or on a Facebook post, it is always a black man being killed; which goes to show that there is still a huge problem with racism in America. Which I know already firsthand, simply by growing up in South Alabama. By the way, I am a white man, just in case anyone is wondering. Action needs to be taken to set this petition up correctly. Thank you for reading this, and taking it into consideration. All lives matter.

  19. Donna on February 16th, 2019 9:29 am

    Great idea but I think we need to go a step further. The verbage in the law needs to change to protect the citizens. As it is written now, anything that a police officer deems fearful is game for open season.

  20. Isetta Crawford Rawls on February 17th, 2019 5:58 am

    Habari Gani,
    Where can i sign this petition in person? I live in Denver, and I would also like to help collect signatures. Too many people don’t keep up on the internet, and many more don’t bother with Facebook. I could be more effective in person.

  21. Derek Carney on February 20th, 2019 12:43 pm

    I love it. I’m just fearful that there would be a heck of a lot of planted weapons and cover up corruption to circumvent punishment. I was thinking they should be required to meditate, eat healthy, and have like an hour of paid sauna/massage etc. prior to their shifts. And be monitored to pulse/stress/etc. smart watches or such to make sure they are emotionally able to deal with their day. Could you imagine how muc violence we could avoid if the police on duty were purposely relaxed and calmed before heading out? Then I was thinking maybe there could be off site police who monitor body cams/health data and would have sole discretion to unlock remotely the officers weapon. and hen they would also have to authorize a second or third shot. and they would also be held equally accountable after the fact. I believe we have the technology to do this.

  22. Jon on February 22nd, 2019 8:18 pm

    Here’s an idea. How about you follow the lawful orders given to you by a police officer, don’t resist. Maybe, just maybe then you won’t get shot. This “act” is stupid and ignorant and just continues to flame hate and discontent

  23. TRAVIS P WASHINGTON on March 5th, 2019 3:12 am

    This is the link to the petition


  24. Chris on April 19th, 2019 9:54 am

    Unarmed does not preclude someone from being a deadly threat.

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