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Green Party LogoGreen Party: Crisis of ongoing police violence, mass incarceration, racial disparities requires a deep overhaul of the justice system and the nation's response to racism

Green Party of the United States
http://www.gp.org

For Immediate Release:
Friday, June 19, 2015

Contacts:
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-904-7614, mclarty@greens.org
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, starlene@gp.org

Greens express sympathy after the murder of nine at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

Greens support Black Lives Matter's demand for an end to violations of the rights and dignity of People of Color

Green Party 2015 Annual National Meeting in St. Louis, Mo., July 23-26: http://2015greenpartyconvention.org


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party members expressed their profound sympathy and condolences for members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., especially the bereaved families, and for all those affected by the June 17 massacre. Greens share in the nation's sadness, shame, and anger for this recent incident of domestic terrorism and reminder of the persistence of racism.

Greens share in the nation's sadness, shame, and anger for this recent incident of domestic terrorism and reminder of the persistence of racism.

Green Party leaders said that abuses in the criminal justice system, including record-high incarceration rates, have escalated to the point of national crisis.

Greens said that responses by most officials at federal, state, and local levels to the ongoing justice-system violations of the basic human and legal rights of People of Color have been superficial, inadequate, or nonexistent. Police conduct has received new attention in the media after recent reports of brutal police treatment of Black teens.

"The Green Party calls mass incarceration, excessive police and prosecutorial power, and extreme racial disparities in arrests, prosecution, and conviction a national emergency that requires emergency measures. Minimal efforts by Democrats and Republicans to address this crisis, along with their role in supporting the war on drugs and passage of draconian laws, have placed both parties on the wrong side of this crisis," said Thomas Muhammad, co-chair of the Green Party Black Caucus (http://www.gp.org/black-caucus).

"The grievances of Black Lives Matter and other racial justice activists keep getting swept under the rug after police incidents fade from the headlines. Their demands for an end to state violence that upholds White supremacy and perpetuates America's history of terrorism against the Black community should be front and center until the national emergency is resolved," said Mr. Muhammad.

Green Party leaders pointed to the suicide of Kalief Browder in Riker's Island after a three-year detention without trial, the systematic use of solitary confinement as a form of torture by prison personnel, and revelations about police planting evidence and conducting illegal searches (http://articles.philly.com/2015-04-16/news/61184400_1_drug-money-drug-suspects-drug-dealer) as proof that the problem is more than "a few bad apples" wearing a badge.

The Green Party will hold its Annual National Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, from July 23 to 26. Greens chose St. Louis in part because the region has been a focal point for complaints about the criminal justice system, which include a pattern of unsolved murders of Black women in the city (https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/05/31/st-louis-grapples-with-murdered-black-women/).

A report from the Justice Department, conducted in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown, uncovered corruption by police and courts in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, in which warrants, arrests, prosecution, and sentencing have been used to extort revenue for the city by criminalizing the city's Black population (see "Debtor's Prison in Ferguson: the Brutality of Racism, Up Close and Personal," http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2015/05/debtors-prison-ferguson-brutality-racism-close-and-personal). Greens said that it's likely that Ferguson isn't the only city with such abuses.

"The problem goes deeper than politicians' fear of the 'soft on crime' accusation and the influence of the prison-industrial complex lobby. There's a national obsession with using force and the threat of incarceration to solve problems, combined with surveillance to invade privacy and intimidate people, and an insistence on blaming the least powerful populations -- Black and Brown people, the poor, and immigrants -- for society's problems," said Andrea Mérida, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and a member of the party's Latino Caucus (http://www.gp.org/caucuses/latino/index.php).

Greens compared impunity for civilian police crimes with impunity for the CIA's use of torture and for the Wall Street crimes that caused the 2008 economic crisis.

"Greens have participated in many protests, but the Green Party doesn't claim to speak on behalf of protesters. As a political party that believes in justice and runs candidates for public office, our responsibility is to introduce solutions for the crisis of mass incarceration, unchecked growth of an internal security state, unpunished police crimes, and the policy of using police departments as occupation forces," said James Lane, who ran as a Green candidate for Congress in New York, Congressional District 11, earlier in 2015 (http://www.VoteJamesLane.org).

Greens listed some necessary steps to end the crisis:

(1) In every city, enact a system of citizens' review boards with subpoena power to investigate allegations of police misconduct and ensure that officers who commit crimes on the job are punished. This can be an expansion of the elected Advisory Neighborhood Commission system that exists in some cities. Programs to break down barriers between police and communities have proved successful in reducing police violence, as demonstrated in Richmond, Calif., during Green Mayor Gayle McLaughlin's two terms ("Use of deadly force by police disappears on Richmond streets," Contra Costa Times, Sept. 6, 2014, http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_26482775/use-deadly-force-by-police-disappears-richmond-streets).

(2) Stop treating certain communities and neighborhoods as if police were an occupying army. End "Broken Window" patrolling and zero-tolerance policies that motivate police to harass and arrest people in targeted (i.e. Black, Brown, and poor) neighborhoods for petty violations that elsewhere would be ignored or only draw a warning.

(3) End "stop and frisk" and other forms of racial profiling and aggressively prosecute racist vigilantism, which has turned into a modern form of lynching. Repeal "Stand Your Ground" statutes that encourage such vigilantism. (When Whites brandish loaded firearms in public, it's called "Open Carry"; when Blacks pick up a toy gun, it's "Shoot to Kill.")

(4) End the war on drugs, which has had little effect on the flow of drugs into the U.S. The drug war has plunged neighboring Latin American countries into gang-dominated corruption and violence, while feeding more inmates into the U.S.'s prison-industrial complex. The Green Party supports decriminalization of drugs and treatment of addiction as a social and medical problem.

(5) Reverse the militarization of civilian departments. Providing civilian police with military training and equipment has resulted in SWAT-style raids for petty crimes.

(6) Prohibit police from arresting or intimidating citizens who record police actions on cell phones or cameras. Prohibit police from intimidating journalists who cover public protests. Punish officers who conceal their badges while on the job.

(7) Restore judicial discretion and end the unchecked power of police and prosecutors. Repeal three-strikes and other mandatory sentencing laws. End abuses of the plea-bargaining system. Outlaw civil asset forfeiture, which allows police, DEA, etc. to seize belongings without a warrant or evidence of a crime. Stop sending people to prison for minor violations, like marijuana and other drug crimes: convictions on petty crimes have given the U.S. the world's highest incarceration rate.

(8) Abolish the privatized prison system, which has created a financial incentive to lock up more inmates and a powerful lobby pressing legislatures to enact more laws designed to send more people to prison. Privatization has also shielded prisons from scrutiny and investigation for widespread abuses of inmates. Urgent measures are needed to protect women and LGBT people in prison, who are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment and other forms of mistreatment.

(9) Punish white-collar crime as vigorously as other crimes. Arresting a man for selling loose cigarettes while rewarding bank execs who peddle toxic securities and launder drug money is an invitation for revolution. Communities have been damaged far more by loss of jobs and banks foreclosing on homeowners unable to pay adjustable-rate mortgages than by petty street crime.

(10) Remember the Edmund Pettus Bridge March (Selma, 1965): recognize that protest is a right protected by the First Amendment and that civil disobedience has a long history of correcting deep injustices. Respect demonstrators: stop infiltration, provocation, and mass arrests. Tear gas and sound cannons have become the modern equivalent of Bull O'Connor's water hoses in the 1960s.

See also:

Baltimore Green Party Urges Continued Protest and Electoral Strategy in Response to Police Violence
Press release: Baltimore Green Party, April 24, 2015
http://www.gp.org/newsroom/press-releases/details/4/800

The Green Party supports ongoing protests against the Ferguson grand jury decision
Press release: Green Party of the United States, December 3, 2014
http://www.gp.org/newsroom/press-releases/details/4/754

Obama, Master of Diversion, Proposes Bogus Reforms of Militarized Police
By Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report, May 20, 2015
http://www.blackagendareport.com/obama-bogus-reform-on-militarized-police

You Will Be Surprised Who the Outside Agitators Really Are in Baltimore
By Max Blumenthal, AlterNet, April 28, 2015
http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/you-will-be-surprised-who-outside-agitators-really-are-baltimore


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