Time Sensitive Action Alert! MA residents, please support these bills to protect the rights of people of color
- An Act to Save Black Lives – HD5128 & SD2968
- An Act to Secure Civil Rights – H.3277
Whether you’ve protested or not, this is an important way you can do something to make the needed changes here in Massachusetts, without leaving home. Time is of the essence, even if you call and leave a message or send an email over the weekend, your legislature will get your message.
Let us know if you’ve made a call or sent an email, and also if you get a response, by sending an email to CapeCodWomenforChange@gmail.com or leaving a comment on this post.
Thank you for all you do to use your voice to make changes!
Summary: 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. A more detailed summary of the bill is attached.
Summary: 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. A short explainer with some of the most egregious examples of cases that failed to hold officers liable is attached.
(If you see errors or omissions please contact CapeCodWomenforChange@gmail.com)
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