Statement of Marc H. Morial (President and CEO of the National Urban League) before the House Judiciary Committee on “Body Cameras: Can Technology Increase Protection for Law Enforcement Officers and the Public?”
(May 19, 2015)
Chairman Graham, Ranking Member Whitehouse, members of the Subcommittee, on behalf of the National Urban League, I am encouraged by this opportunity to present our qualified support for body-worn cameras as an extremely important component of a multi-faceted strategy for police reform. I wish to express my sincere appreciation to you, Chairman Graham, to Ranking Member Whitehouse and to Senator Tim Scott for holding this most important hearing.
I am Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League and former Mayor of New Orleans. It is my hope and expectation that this hearing will mark the beginning of legislative action to address the ongoing pattern and practice of racial violence and systemic discriminatory treatment by law enforcement in so many of our communities of color.
Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, few times in a nation’s history is the conscience of its citizens shocked and awakened across racial, economic, generational and even ideological lines. In this catalytic moment driven by cataclysmic circumstances—the deaths of Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Marlene Pinnock, Rekia Boyd, Levar Jones and too many others— the collective consciousness of this nation screams—and demands without apology—that it’s time for a change.
The use of excessive force—deadly force—by law enforcement against unarmed African Americans has no place in our democracy. Police should not fear the communities they have sworn to protect and communities should not fear those who serve to protect them. We as a nation must and can do better. The challenges before us are great, and we all—legislators, civil rights