Target: Georgia Representative John Lewis
Goal: Make it easier to prosecute police officers for violently depriving citizens of civil rights.
In the wake of the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the Department of Justice has declared it will launch civil rights investigations. However, while these investigations may result in damning reports regarding institutional racism in policing, they are unlikely to result in any criminal charges against the officers involved in either killings. This is because the one federal statute regarding the prosecution of police officers for abuses requires the prosecution to prove that the officer intended to violate civil rights. This means that unless the officer in question states explicitly that that was his or her intention, it is near impossible to successfully indict or prosecute them. This needs to change.
Given the non-indictments of the officers responsible for the deaths of Mike Brown, and Eric Garner, and the acquittal of many of the officers involved with the killing of Freddie Gray it is clear that to have hope of justice the law needs to be broadened to encompass police officers acting with reckless disregard of civil rights. Sign our petition and ask Representative John Lewis to submit a bill to the House of Representatives enabling the prosecution of officers acting with reckless disregard for civil rights.
Dear Congressman Lewis,
I am sure you were saddened, as I was, to hear of and witness the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. As you know, in the wake of these killings the Department of Justice has stated that it will conduct investigations into the police departments involved. The speed of their response is heartening, however I fear that the officers involved will escape justice much like many before them.
Under Title 18 U.S. Code 242 as it currently stands, the level of evidence needed to convict a police officer of compromising civil rights is so high that all but the most extreme cases result in either non-indictment or acquittal. However, if this law was amended to expand the scope of prosecution to include reckless endangerment of civil rights many of the officers involved in the killings, and other offenses may well have faced consequences for their actions. I urge you to submit a bill to the house of representatives that would make such an amendment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue