Racial Justice

what Rebecca will fight for in Congress.

Black Lives Matter

Manuel Ellis. Said Joquin. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Tony McDade. Sandra Bland. Trayvon Martin. We must say their names, and we must stop police killings of Black Americans for good. That means making systemic change from the top to the bottom of our society.

Local and State Police Reform

Manny Ellis died at the hands of Tacoma police on March 3, 2020 saying, “I can’t breathe”—like George Floyd in Minnesota and Eric Garner in New York City. That is inexcusable and it is absolutely heartbreaking to me that Manny’s son and daughter are without their father. While I am running for federal and not state office, nobody can be silent about the changes we need in our community, and I will use my platform as an candidate and member of Congress to champion the following changes in District 6 and in Washington state:

  • Terminate and prosecute the officers involved in Ellis’ killing.
  • Given the mishandling of the Ellis case and lack of community trust, deny TPD accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
  • Review Tacoma’s contracts with its police unions to root out unreasonable obstacles to accountability, and remove provisions that destroy disciplinary records after 1, 2, and 5 years.
  • Officers are currently given 48 hours to submit an administrative report concerning their actions when they are investigated by Internal Affairs—cut this period to 24 hours.
  • Cut the minimum time provided before an Internal Affairs interview from 48 to 24 hours.
  • Eliminate contract provisions which requires supervisors not to utilize disciplinary records older than 36 months.
  • Eliminate contract provisions which require a warrant to search assigned employee storage space within the department.
  • Close the loopholes in Washington’s I-940 law: We cannot have police investigating other police, regardless of what jurisdiction they are each from. Develop a vigorously independent civilian corps of investigators under the supervision of the Washington Attorney General; create clear and swift consequences for agencies that fail to comply with I-940, including immediate withdrawals of state funding and assistance; and fund the creation of an independent family advocate in every county across the state to liaise with, advise, and support families impacted by police killings.

National Police Reform

The time for commissions and half-measures is over. I agree with many of the proposals put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders:

  • Reform federal laws to allow for more effective prosecution of police by changing the standard from willfulness to recklessness.
  • End qualified immunity for police so they can be held civilly liable for abuses.
  • Strip federal funding from departments that violate civil rights.
  • Provide grants to cities and states to create civilian corps of unarmed first responders, including social workers, EMTs, and trained mental health professionals.
  • Require all police misconduct records be made publicly available.
  • Ban chokeholds, neck restraints, and ban the use of chemical weapons against peaceful protests.
  • Require states to create powerful independent civilian watchdog agencies, under the supervision of Attorneys General, to proactively monitor for abuses, investigate complaints by the public, and investigate killings by police officers.

I support many elements of the BREATHE Act, introduced by the Movement for Black Lives with the support of Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, including:

  • Eliminating the Department of Defense 1033 Program used to transfer military equipment to police.
  • Prohibiting surveillance technologies that target Black and brown communities, including predictive policing and facial recognition.
  • Ending civil asset forfeiture.
  • Abolishing mandatory minimum sentences and “three strikes” laws.
  • Repealing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
  • Legalizing marijuana and expunging drug offenses.
  • Providing grants to local jurisdictions so they can reallocate funding from police to services to improve livelihoods, including violence interruption and intervention, park redevelopment, supportive housing, unarmed first responders, and community-based organizations engaged in rehabilitation.
  • Removing police, armed security and surveillance equipment from schools.
  • Ending local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
  • Guaranteeing a private right of action to recover damages when a federal official has committed a constitutional violation.

Prison Reform

The United States is home to the world’s largest population of prisoners. Though Americans make up just under 5% of the global population, 20% of the incarcerated people in the world are in the United States.

People of color are vastly overrepresented in our prisons today due to racial profiling, drug arrest disparities, concentrated urban poverty, and other forms of systemic racism. As the NAACP notes, “Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.” And the law is not applied evenly across class, either: the cash bail system, our underfunded public defenders, and the concentration of police officers in low-income neighborhoods currently ensures that the most vulnerable members of our communities are the ones being treated most harshly.

I will fight to:

  • End the cash bail system, which keeps low-income people in jail (risking the loss of their home or job) while wealthier offenders walk free.
  • End private prisons and ensure that imprisonment is used as a last resort for public safety, not as a system for investors to lobby politicians to keep our prisons full and make the most money possible.
  • Properly fund public defenders, ensuring that every American accused of a crime has the right to a fair trial and reducing instances where innocent people spend extended time in jail simply because their appointed attorney is overworked.
  • Address the disastrous effects of the failed War on Drugs by legalizing cannabis at the federal level, expunging non-violent marijuana offenses, and redirecting resources away from incarceration toward evidence-based drug prevention and treatment methods.
  • Abolish mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes, allowing judges to use discretion when sentencing first-time and low-risk offenders.
  • Ensure that recently released inmates have access to resources in housing, employment, and health care to facilitate a smooth transition back to their communities.
  • Keep our children from ever entering the school-to-prison pipeline by heavily investing in our public schools.

Economic and Social Reform

Martin Luther King Jr. condemned what he called the “triple evils” of racism, economic exploitation and militarism. Policing and prisons cannot be separated from racism, poverty and our addiction to war; none of these issues can be addressed apart from one another.

To that end, we must: 

  • Reduce our bloated Pentagon budget, in which we spend more on the military than the next 10 nations combined, and end the abandonment of Black communities by the government and invest in healthcare (including mental healthcare and drug treatment), housing, education, clean water, healthy food in food deserts, and a clean environment.
  • Restore the Voting Rights Act.
  • Enact reparations, which are a debt owed that has never been paid. This should be accompanied by a national, moral reckoning with and acknowledgement of our past.
  • End redlining — which has a shameful history in Tacoma — and other forms of housing racism that still exist.
  • End voter disenfranchisement, restoring the right to vote to the 1 in 13 African-Americans who have had the ability to vote removed by a felony conviction.
  • Make Election Day a national holiday, so it is easier to vote for millions more people.
  • End voter suppression and gerrymandering.
  • Increase federal funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Rebecca Parson
for Congress WA-06

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