I joined in the collective sigh of relief earlier this week when Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts in the murder of George Floyd.
It’s certainly not full justice for Mr. Floyd and his family, but I hope the decision has a ripple effect in eliminating systemic racism and reducing police brutality across the country.
Twelve jurors in Minneapolis did the right thing — but we can’t rely on juries and individual prosecutors to chip away at this deeply-rooted crisis of injustice. And recent police killings of unarmed civilians show we have a long way to go before our justice system protects all equally.
That’s why I’m championing four bills this year that will advance progressive criminal justice reform in our state:
- Demilitarizing the police. In recent years, law enforcement agencies across California have received significant levels of equipment from the US military, as police officers have been equipped with armored vehicles, drones, explosives, and other weapons of war — practices that can have violent impacts on communities of color. My AB 481 bill would help to rebuild trust between local communities and law enforcement by requiring local approval and transparency as police departments obtain military-grade equipment.
- Redirecting prison funding to fight homelessness. As California has reduced its prison population in recent years, with 5 prison closures expected by 2025, my AB 328 bill would take a portion of the $1.5 billion in savings to address the housing needs for those leaving the system — a key step for combating homelessness in California. We need to end the cycle between cell blocks and sidewalks, and ensure that when people exit prison, they have a roof over their heads.
- Taking bias out of the traffic enforcement of speeding laws. We know how traffic stops for speeding disproportionately impact Black and brown drivers — and we know too well how those interactions can turn deadly. At a time when we need to reduce deaths and serious injuries due to traffic violence, my AB 550 bill will allow California to pilot speed safety systems, a tested tool that has saved countless lives in other states and reduced tense interactions between police officers and drivers.
- Preventing deportations based on invalid convictions. In recent years, California has seen a number of high-profile cases of immigrants unexpectedly transferred to ICE after serving lengthy periods of incarceration for criminal convictions. We should not be tearing families apart and deporting individuals who have paid their full debt to society, particularly those who have few ties to the countries they immigrated from as very young children. My AB 1259 bill would keep families together, ensure the law is applied equally, and protect the constitutional right to a jury trial.
Reforming our criminal justice system and standing up for Black and brown San Franciscans and Californians will take a multi-faceted, relentless approach. By fighting for these four bills, alongside other proposals and with other leaders at the state and local levels, we can dismantle systemic racism and restore real justice.
If you have a story to share about your fight to restore justice to our communities, or have thoughts about any of our bills, please reply to this email.