Democrats Renew the Call for 'First Class Citizenship' and Justice for All

This week, I visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta with my Democratic National Committee delegation. The 1960s demand for "first class citizenship" echoes through the years as our call to justice today. Unfortunately the Bull Connor images of peaceful protesters were not historic remnants but eerily prescient of tanks and tear gas last week in Ferguson, MO.

So it was with poignancy and determination that the Democratic National Committee spoke this week with one voice to lift up the voices our constituents marching in the streets from coast to coast for a transformation in the relationship between communities and the police who serve and protect our safety and civil rights.

Below is the full text of our resolution:

DNC Resolution Promoting Community Policing and Justice for All

Whereas, our hearts go out to the family and other loved ones of Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson who are grieving in the tumultuous aftermath of his death and stand with President Obama in affirming that "we must make sure that the cause of justice & fair administration of law is brought to bear in Ferguson;" and

Whereas, our first priority as Americans is a peaceful resolution in Ferguson, Missouri that has continued and as President Obama said, "We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government;" and

Whereas, nationally we are challenged to rigorously advance policies that reflect our American values: treating each individual as worthy of dignity and respect; accorded liberty and justice for all; and

Whereas, we entrust our police and local law enforcement officers in all states with authority and responsibility to protect and serve us. We appreciate the overwhelming majority of police officers who serve with honor and integrity, putting their lives on the line every day; and

Whereas, across America, we promote community policing where peace officers engage in outreach to the neighborhoods, visit elementary schools, youth groups, and local businesses, work with various constituency organizations including communities of color, women, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities to keep people safe and recruit from their ranks, and

Whereas, a national shift in post-9/11 policing toward militarization ostensibly to fight armed drug cartels and terrorists attacks has usurped many common sense community policing practices. Indeed many veterans have noted with concern that local police forces wear more military equipment and body armor in American communities than servicemembers do when fighting in war zones overseas. The danger of this militarization is that such an approach presupposes criminality not community, breaks the bonds of trust between police and civilians, and intimidates local residents trying to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights; and,

Whereas, militarized policing in any of our communities is a sign of ineffective policing, because it alienates communities, takes officers off the street and puts them in heavily armed vehicles, and destroys the public trust that is necessary for people to feel comfortable coming forward and calling upon officers for protection; and

Whereas, across America, racial profiling and stop and frisk policies alienate people in targeted communities -- particularly our youth of color whose only substantive encounter with a law enforcement officer is to be pulled over for driving while brown or stopped and frisked for walking while black. This alienation is unacceptable; moreover, the policies are ineffective. California statistics on convictions following racial profiling-driven detentions and contraband actually found in racial profiling-driven searches were so minuscule that the state agreed to end the practice -- and calls for the federal government to do the same are growing; and

Whereas, we know that long-term and nationally, public policy, readily available technology and commonsense training can be used to transform justice if we are willing to hire diverse police and civilian leadership, ban racial profiling and stop and frisk practices that disproportionately and adversely impact communities of color, and promote community policing to keep us safe and free.

Therefore Be it resolved that the Democratic National Committee stands with our fellow Americans in support of the independent federal investigation by the Department of Justice of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown and the right of the residents of Ferguson to peacefully demonstrate their concerns about this tragedy; and

Be it further resolved that the DNC believes it is necessary for a national examination of the state of policing across America and will promote a shift from militarized policing to community policing and justice for all including pursuit of (a) review of the DOD section 1033 program to examine the overall federal effort of giving military-type equipment to local police departments with oversight and appropriate scale of funding so that excessive force does not lead to excessive use of force (b) an end to racial profiling and a retraining of officers to profile criminal behaviors not personal characteristics including race, national origin, sexual orientation or identity or religion (c) maximum use of technology such as wearable body cameras and dashboard cameras to protect the rights of police and civilians, and rigorous standards on the collection storage and transparency of the data collected by such technology (d) retraining officers with a federal excessive force standard and (e) national guidelines for independent investigations of officer-involved shootings;

Be it further resolved that the DNC commits to long-term organizing, voting and empowering communities so that if leaders don't change we work together to change course, promote safety, and deliver on the promise of liberty and justice for all.

To everyone marching and organizing for justice, let us work together to achieve the "first class citizenship" for all Americans so that we have no second class citizens or second class Americans in the country we love.