For Immediate Release
Civil Rights Group Urges Greater Executive Action Following President's Limits on Military Weaponry for Police
ColorOfChange.org Calls for Comprehensive Database on Police Use of Force
NEW YORK, NY - President Obama announced that the US government plans to prohibit federal agencies from providing local law enforcements certain kinds of militarized equipment such as grenade launches, high-caliber weapons and bayonets. A longer list of equipment provided by the federal government will be controlled more tightly, though not banned. In order to obtain weaponry, local agencies will have to get approval and provide an explanation of why they need it, receive adequate training, and collect sufficient data on the use of the equipment.
This announcement coincides with the release of a report from the 21st Century Policing Task Force, which aims to improve relations between police forces and the communities in which they serve. The President also announced a $163 million grant to encourage local police to adopt task force recommendations, which will be awarded in the fall.
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorofChange.org, issued the following statement in response:
“ColorofChange.org and its members strongly applaud the President’s latest restrictions on militarized police equipment, which come at a time when militarized police violence continues to threaten the civil and human rights of Black communities every day. This is just one small but crucial step in the right direction.
“The restrictions come after nearly 8,000 ColorOfChange members submitted comments to the President's Task Force on 21st Century policing and more than 300,000 members and their allies took actions urging President Obama to expand and enforce federal bans on discriminatory policing; bans which were included in the Task Force's final report as a recommendation for local police departments.
“Military weaponry has no place in the hands of local law enforcement, yet the latest restrictions still give local law enforcement access to drones and other weaponry that violates the privacy and civil rights of Black and brown communities. There is no acceptable level of militarized policing. And as long as law enforcement has military weaponry and high tech surveillance tools such as Stingrays, Black and brown folks will continue to be unjustly arrested, killed and treated as enemy combatants in their own homes.
“Success of the Task Force's recommendation lies in enforcement, as well as in comprehensive data collection of police use of force in order to track impact. For 15 years, the Attorney General has had the authority to collect data on police force and killings, yet there remains no comprehensive, national database. The best way to improve trust between police and local communities is through transparency and accountability."
With more than 850,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.