Law4BlackLives-DC opposes "Tough-On-Crime" Amendments

Law for Black Lives – DC and local Black Movement organizations call on D.C. residents to attend the D.C. Council’s Legislative Session this Tuesday to support the NEAR Act and vigorously oppose the piecemeal addition of Mayor’s proposed crime bill

This Tuesday, D.C. Council Judiciary Committee Chairman Kenyan McDuffie’s preventative crime bill, the NEAR Act, will be presented to the full D.C. Council for a vote. By integrating national best practices and community‐oriented solutions within a public health framework, the NEAR Act sets the stage for new approaches to crime prevention such as placing behavioral health specialists and social workers into law enforcment settings and improving law enforcement training and data collection.

In advance of Tuesday’s vote, Mayor Bowser and her allies on the D.C. Council attempted to introduce the same ill‐advised “tough on crime” proposals from her failed crime bill, policies not geared toward promoting community safety but instead expanding law enforcement powers and contributing to the system of mass incarceration. These provisions are just as dangerous to our communities as they were in September, when the Mayor’s bill was initially released amid vehement community opposition. 

The Law for Black Lives ‐ DC Law and Policy Guide released on October 20, 2015 contains detailed analysis of these same provisions the Mayor is attempting to re‐introduce. We recommend reviewing the Law and Policy Guide in advance of tomorrow’s D.C. Council Legislative Session for a thorough understanding of the concerns associated with these proposals.

The Mayor’s attempts last week, and likely tomorrow, at the D.C. Council’s Legislative Session, to add her “tough on crime” proposals to the NEAR Act, are diametrically opposed to the investment in Black communities that D.C. residents have made clear is needed. D.C. residents demand criminal justice policy in the District that invests in our communities and divests from police and the system of mass incarceration. D.C. residents demand solutions that address violence at its root rather than merely suppressing some of its expression, such as increased access to affordable housing, pathways to employment, and high‐quality education.

Law for Black Lives ‐ DC is a legal and policy collective formed by lawyers, law students and organizers to support the growing Movement for Black Lives, bridging the gap between the law and the community that it should serve. We are a multiracial, multiethnic, multinational and diverse in class, gender, and sexual orientation, and we are committed to building a world where #BlackLivesMatter.

We call upon D.C. residents to continue to vigorously oppose the Mayor's proposals, no matter what form they take, to hold elected officials in the District of Columbia accountable, and to demand a reallocation of public safety dollars away from our bloated criminal justice system to services and institutions that foster true community safety.

In solidarity,

#Law4BlackLives – DC

Council on American-Islamic Relations

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee - DMV Chapter

Black Lives Matter DMV

Black Movement Law Project

DC Lawyers for Youth

National Association against Police Brutality (NAAPB)

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – Washington, DC Branch

National Lawyers Guild, Georgetown Law Chapter

Organizing Neighborhood Equity (ONE) DC

The Reentry Task Force



briane cornish