Coalition of 30 Social Justice Organizations Oppose Georgia Bill that Shifts Responsibility for Police Brutality to Victims

Affiliate: ACLU of Georgia
March 22, 2021 5:00 pm

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ATLANTA – A coalition of 30 social justice organizations sent a letter to the Governor, Speaker of the House, and members of the House of Representatives to oppose Senate Bill 115, a bill that shifts responsibility for police brutality away from law enforcement officers to their victims. The death of George Floyd at the hands of police last year was a wake-up call for many Americans about the multitude of problems inherent in our modern-day policing system, but it was déjà vu for Americans of color and especially Black Americans.

“It should not be up to civilians to ensure they are not the subjects of police brutality. This bill fails to address the issue of police misconduct. It fails to address the fact that police disproportionately kill and use force against Black people,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia.

Senate bill 115 creates a new instructional course designed to educate drivers on how to behave when interacting with law enforcement officers and emphasizes the behavior of drivers and ordinary Georgia civilians to protect their own safety from police officers rather than placing the responsibility where it should remain, which is with law enforcement officers.

The dangerous escalation of police and civilian interactions is well-documented. This past September, a sheriff’s deputy in Clayton County pinned down and beat Roderick Walker, a Black man, following a routine traffic stop.[1] Senate Bill 115 insinuates that Mr. Walker and others who have experienced similar fates, are partially – if not wholly – to blame for police brutality. Blaming the victim is wrong.

Thirty Georgia organizations demand legislators work to address the longstanding adversarial relationship between police and communities by helping to create police departments that work collaboratively and democratically with all of the communities they serve, thereby increasing transparency, accountability, trust, effectiveness, fairness, and public safety.

[1] Proctor, Aungelique. “Roderick Walker: I ‘feared for my life’ during violent Clayton County arrest.” Fox 5 Atlanta. 18 Sept 2020.

Click here for a copy of the letter and to read this release online.

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