The Congressional Black Caucus held a news conference Thursday outside Justice Department headquarters in northwest D.C. calling for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to properly investigate and prosecute law enforcement officials who intentionally kill unarmed blacks.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), reading a letter she and Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina) delivered to Lynch’s office minutes later, rattled off several of the names of blacks killed by police this year.
“It is time for the Department of Justice to take aggressive action and put an end to what appears to be the targeting of and profiling of African-Americans that result in their death,” Waters said. “Officers enjoy the presumption of credibility, whereas victims endure the presumption of guilty. For too long, this dynamic has helped to protect law enforcement officers from being brought to justice.”
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) speaks during a Sept. 22 news conference held by the Congressional Black Caucus outside the Justice Department headquarters in D.C. calling for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate the killings of unarmed blacks by law enforcement officials.
One by one, members of the CBC stood at the podium and passionately spoke about how recent killings continue to hurt the black community.
For the past two days in Charlotte, people protested the death of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, who was shot and killed outside an apartment complex by a black police officer Tuesday after police sought to serve a warrant to another person at the complex. Police said Scott brandished a gun, but his family contends he sat in his car reading a book.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) declared a state of emergency Wednesday, calling in the National Guard after violence erupted in parts of the city that led to nearly four dozen arrests.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) advised all those protesting nationwide to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner.
“Exercise your right within the First Amendment,” he said. “I understand why you’re angry. I’m angry. Just stay peaceful.”
Scott’s death marks the third fatal shooting of a black male at the hands of police in the past week.
Tyre King, 13, of Columbus, Ohio, was fatally shot by a white police officer Sept. 15. Police said the teen pulled a BB gun from his waistband during the altercation.
On Friday, a white police officer shot and killed Terence Crutcher, 40, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is seen on police video with his hands in the air shortly before the shooting.
Later Thursday afternoon, Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler announced his office will charge Betty Shelby, the officer who shot Crutcher, with first-degree manslaughter.
“The charging of the officer in Tulsa was a swift step in the pursuit of justice,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said on his Twitter account. “We need to examine all involved.”