August 10, 2016 New York – In response to the Department of Justice’s release today of its report on the practices of the Baltimore Police Department, Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vince Warren made the following statement:
It comes as no surprise that the DOJ would find rampant and unconstitutional racism throughout the Baltimore Police Department. The people of Baltimore and, after the killing of Freddie Gray, the entire nation already knew as much.
These sorts of reports validate Black people’s experiences at the hands of police with an official stamp, even as police killing, stopping, frisking and assaulting of Black Americans continues unabated. As does police impunity. Beyond killing, however, the report brings to light the deeply troubling sexual violence women have experienced at the hands of police around the country. For example, the report cites numerous instances of “strip-searching individuals on public streets” and “multiple lawsuits and more than 60 complaints alleging unlawful strip searches.”
This is more than an unprofessional policing problem, and it requires more than healing, training, and conversation. It's a structural racism problem that can only be addressed by including structural changes that shift police accountability like the move towards greater community control of police called for in the Movement for Black Lives Platform.
Too many people have been abused at the hands of the BPD and other police departments around the country – most without drawing that official stamp of a DOJ investigation and consent decree or a federal court ruling – for us to only rely on solutions that the police and their unions are willing to go along with, even kicking and screaming.
We have had enough of police violence, enough of those who provide cover for it, enough of those who try and explain it away, and enough of the complacency that has come to accompany the news of each new killing. It is time to listen to communities of color and follow their lead.
The Center for Constitutional Rights won a landmark ruling in August 2013 finding the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices to be racially discriminatory and unconstitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, and works with grassroots groups on a national and local level for police accountability and reform.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.