WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)—December 2, 2014. U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) is calling for more police diversity training to better equip officers to interact with diverse communities in light of the events in Ferguson, MO. As part of last night’s Congressional Black Caucus Special Order Hour entitled “Black in America: What Ferguson says about where we are and where we need to go,” Rep. Kelly spoke on the House floor about the need for more effective police training and called on everyday citizens to take an active role in their communities to facilitate better relationships with law enforcement.
Rep. Kelly’s floor speech can be viewed at: http://youtu.be/FITORZsfGEg
The following is a transcript of the speech:
As we reflect on the events in Ferguson, let me begin by offering my prayers to the family of Michael Brown and the entire Ferguson community.
Tonight we stand before the House as representatives of our communities and as concerned citizens. We stand here to say that we too mourn Michael Brown. We mourn his loss and what it represents – the very real fear and frustration of black families across the nation who worry for their sons. We are here to speak for those who are weary after another incident of a young black man being killed by police without consequence.
Ferguson speaks to the broader challenges we face as a nation – particularly the fraught relationship between the black community and the police. Many members of my family have served in law enforcement, and I am fortunate that for most of my life, I’ve been able to have many positive personal experiences with that community. On the whole, I believe those who put their lives on the line for our communities are good. But that doesn’t negate the fact that in America today, we still have too many in the black community who fear the police. And we still have too many police officers who fear the black community. This is a dynamic that colors every encounter and paves the way for tragic outcomes. Regardless of your perspective on the events in Ferguson, we can all agree that no community should live in fear of the institutions that are charged with protecting it.
We must hold our law enforcement officials to the highest professional standards and provide them with the training they need to effectively police diverse communities. This training must address the biases and stereotypes that influence decisions in the field and that create obstacles to mutual understanding. And in working to achieve that understanding, we can strive toward a justice system that treats all Americans fairly and values all American lives equally.
I am encouraged by the many peaceful, productive protests across the country from everyday citizens calling for change in the way our country views and values young black men. As a mother, a wife, and Member of Congress, I believe that this change must begin today. I encourage everyone who is outraged by Ferguson to look for ways they can prevent a similar tragedy from happening in your community. Get involved with your local government. Go to your local town hall, city council and community policing meetings. Know who represents you and who is policing your streets. Be a part of the change and lend your voice to the discussion on the direction of your community.
Vote. Exercise your rights.
That’s how we work together toward the kind of change that makes our communities safer and honors the memory of Michael Brown.