WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement announcing his support and co-sponsorship of new legislation drafted by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37), and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY-10) to tackle police brutality and systemic racism within policing:
“Today, America is in the midst of an important conversation that is long overdue. Over the last several weeks, millions of Americans have watched in horror at the evidence of police brutality across our country—from the chilling murder of George Floyd, to the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters and journalists exercising their First Amendment rights of free speech, free assembly and free press. Americans from all walks of life and all corners of our country have taken to the streets in response, demanding real change.
“While a lot of policing policy is set at the local level by mayors, city councils, and police commissioners, the federal government must also use its considerable power to meet this moment. In the 1960s, we saw civil rights protests bring about bold federal legislation outlawing discrimination, protecting voting rights, and more, making a powerful difference in the lives of Americans.
“Now as then, we need to turn protest into action. It is important to state that Black Lives Matter, to say the names of those we’ve lost, and to remember and honor their lives. But words alone are not enough. We must overhaul our laws so that our public safety systems truly protect and serve all Americans.
“Today, I am supporting new legislation, led by Senators Booker and Harris, which would enact sweeping reforms to policing across America. This bill addresses many of the policy changes that I outlined last week—including creating a national database of police misconduct, outlawing the use of chokeholds, ending the use of no-knock warrants—and much more.
“Americans are crying out for change, and Black Americans have already lived far too long under a system that has robbed thousands of their lives and millions of their safety. Let us seize this moment for real change. The House will be moving this legislation forward in the coming weeks. The Senate must meet this moment and join them in action.”