Rep. Peters' Commitment to Help Address Systemic Racism and Racial Injustice in America
Yesterday, the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) held a call with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Rep. Karen Bass and African American NDC members who shared their experiences, perspectives, and ideas for real steps Congress can take to dismantle systemic racial injustice in America.
Our country is in crisis, exposed recently by the murder of George Floyd. We can’t move forward until we tackle systemic racism in America. Our CBC colleagues reminded us that racism isn't an issue for Black Americans to fix – it's incumbent upon white Americans to fix.
I’ve never had to worry about mistreatment from the police because of the color of my skin, but I know that the experience of Black America is different. I am committed to working with my colleagues and my community so Black Americans can finally know equal justice under law.
To start, I will support a resolution authored by Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Rep. Ilhan Omar condemning police brutality, calling for greater accountability, oversight, and civilian review boards, as well as Rep. Hakeem Jeffries' bill that would ban the use of carotid restraints. I'm looking at other bills, too.
As President Obama has observed, most changes we need will be local, where police departments exist. Last year, I was one of the first electeds to endorse the SD ballot measure to create an independent Commission on Police Practices and have urged that it be placed on the ballot.
This kind of reform–more transparency & independent oversight–can rebuild trust between the community & law enforcement. Citizens should feel confident those in uniform will protect us all equally. Rooting out bad actors will also help the credibility and effectiveness of police.
Good cops must call out and root out the bad cops. We saw the police chief in Atlanta listen, the chief in Flint join the march, and other officers take a knee. Chief Nisleit banned chokeholds at SDPD; today the SD Sheriff did, too. We need more of that leadership from within.
Finally–and personally–I know for the rest of my life I will remember how I felt when I saw the video of George Floyd being suffocated to death. Sickened. Saddened. Repulsed. Enraged. I’ll never forget it, and I’ll never stop fighting to fix the system that let it happen.