Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Media Advisory: Policing Strategies Working Group to Visit Atlanta & Hold Press Conference

Washington, D.C. – Several members of the bipartisan Policing Strategies Working Group will be traveling to Atlanta, Georgia to meet with local community leaders and law enforcement to discuss police accountability, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns related to these issues. Members of the working group plan to hold a press conference following their private roundtable with community leaders on Friday, November 18 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Details can be found below.

Members of Congress
·         House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)
·         Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.)
·         Representative Doug Collins (R-Ga.)
·         Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
·         Representative David Reichert (R-Wa.)
·         Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.)

Roundtable Participants
·         George Turner, Chief of Police, Atlanta Police Department
·         John Horn, United States Attorney, Northern District of Georgia
·         Joseph P. Spillane, Chief of Police, Georgia State University
·         Roderick Hughey, Sr., Pastor, Voices of Faith North
·         Nirej Sekhon, Associate Professor of Law, Georgia State University – College of Law
·         Johnathan Hill, Student Body President, Morehouse University

WHAT:  Press conference following the conclusion of the bipartisan Policing Strategies Working Group roundtable with community leaders. 

WHEN:  Friday, November 18, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. Media with video equipment can begin setup at 1:30 p.m. The press conference will also be streamed live on the House Judiciary Committee Majority’s Facebook page.

WHERE:       Georgia State University – College of Law
                        85 Park Place NE
Room 242
                        Atlanta, GA 30303

RSVP:  Members of the media who wish to attend must RSVP with Jessica Collins atJessica.Collins@mail.house.gov and Shadawn Reddick-Smith at Shadawn.Reddick-Smith@mail.house.gov by Thursday, November 17.

Background on the Working Group: In July 2016, Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers announced the establishment of a working group to examine police accountability, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns related to these issues. The bipartisan working group is in the process of holding a series of roundtables to candidly discuss the issues fueling excessive force used by law enforcement and attacks against police officers. Read Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers’ op-ed on the working group, below.

Examining police-community issues with bipartisan working group

By John Conyers, Jr. and Bob Goodlatte

One does not need a public opinion poll to know that fear and frustration is rampant in many communities across our Nation. Our newsfeeds and TV screens are filled with reports of deadly attacks on police officers and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers. These tragic events have strained race relations and heightened tensions as well as further added to feelings of mistrust between communities and law enforcement. When African-American men and women are pulled over for routine traffic stops, many fear that officers will cause undue harm. And as the men and women in blue head out on their daily patrols, many worry that it may be their last.
It seems as though there are two factions forming: one pro-police and one pro-racial justice. As Members of Congress, we strongly reject this notion of division. The senseless deaths that have occurred over the last several weeks are unconscionable. These incidents must not become the new normal for our communities. 
Just days before his murder, Montrell Jackson, an African-American  police officer, summed up these issues  in a Facebook post: “In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat…These are trying times.” He further called on his fellow citizens: “Please don’t let hate infect your heart.”

As a Nation, we must heed Officer Jackson’s call and come together to address these tensions so that we can overcome all unjustified acts of violence. Every layer of civil society – neighbors, community leaders, churches, and state and local governments – must confront this matter of vital national importance.
As Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, we recently established a bipartisan working group to examine the use of force by law enforcement, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns related to these issues. We are not naïve enough to believe that we can fix this problem by ourselves. However, we can and must devote urgent Congressional attention to these serious problems that must be addressed, and determine what can be done at the federal level to set an appropriate tone. In addition, we need to work with state and local communities to help find the tools they need to do the hard work of improving the relationships between their law enforcement agencies and residents. 
Before Congress adjourned, we and the 10 other members of the working group met for the first time to candidly discuss the issues fueling the current state of distrust between some of the public and law enforcement. Each of us comes from different walks of life and different parts of the country and can learn from one another and our constituents. We plan to hold more meetings when we return to Washington, D.C. in September, but in the meantime, we intend to take action to learn more about the problem and potential solutions from the individuals, law enforcement agencies, and community leaders in our state and local communities.
We plan to listen and talk with a variety of people in our districts who are impacted by this problem: law enforcement, religious and other community leaders, area youth, and mothers and fathers who have lost children to violent crime. We want to hear about people’s own experiences so that we can understand the fears and frustrations of those impacted most by the ongoing tension.
The issues driving the wedge between law enforcement and the public will not be solved overnight and they won’t be solved by the federal government alone. Much of the hard work needs to happen in local communities, but we in Congress acknowledge the gravity of this problem and are committed to finding solutions. There is room for compassion for all the victims of violence on our streets.  We must work together as fellow Americans on this issue so that we live up to our nation’s values of liberty and justice for all. 

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