Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez Congress: DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUNG BLACK MEN SHOT BY POLICE

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    Mr. Speaker,

    I had planned to talk about something else this morning, but the events of the last 12 hours changed my plans. I watched this morning on TV and on-line – like a lot of Americans – another of our fellow Americans shot down by police. This time it was in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Earlier this week it was Baton Rouge. But we know it is everywhere. Chicago, Baltimore, South Carolina – it seems that every week or month another black man is shot by police and we always have the same reaction. Oh, that’s a tragedy. Oh, there ought to be an investigation. There will be another lawsuit and another settlement, but no justice. Oh, the Department of Justice and the FBI need to oversee the investigation because we cannot trust police to police themselves. And then we go back to business as usual and nobody actually does anything. State by state, city by city, and county by county we might make this reform or that reform, but there is no national strategy to stop police from killing people – especially black people, especially black men. I wept as I watched the mother of Philando Castile describe her son. She said he has a job. He served children in a cafeteria. He was calm. She said he was not a thug. Why does a black woman in the 21st century in the United States of America, with a black man in the oval office, almost 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down – why does she have to start her description of her son with “he was not a thug”?? She said “we are being hunted.” Mr. Speaker, this is another sad chapter in American history. I do not feel compelled to say in describing my grandson Luisito, well, first and foremost he is not a gang-banger. He is not a thug. But for this black mother and for a lot of African American mothers in this country, that is something they feel they need to say. She did everything right and her son was shot dead by police. This young man was riding in the passenger seat of a car, with his fiancé, with a four-year-old little girl in the backseat. He had a permit to carry a weapon which he announced to police. So he had gone through the background check, gone through the training and had a concealed-carry permit. But he was shot dead in front of his loved ones. Why is it in 21st century America we have to have a conversation about how to avoid being shot by the police? Why do I have to instruct my 13 year-old grandson about de-escalation? About strategies to prevent a sworn public servant and officer of the court – a trained member of law-enforcement – and I have to instruct my teenage grandson about how to prevent that person from shooting him to death for no reason? Why, Mr. Speaker? We have no national strategy and no national conversation. When Americans are literally crying out in the streets that, yes, in fact, Black Lives Matter, we have no response from this Congress, the people’s house. None. The head of the FBI announces he won’t press charges against a candidate in the Democratic Party – stop everything, let’s have a hearing!! Benghazi. Let’s spend millions on hearings and investigations. Planned Parenthood, let’s form a special committee to do what the majority feels is important from their political point of view. But a young black man is shot by police in his car in cold blood? Nothing. Young men are shot by police, videotapes are withheld from the public and nothing happens. Mr. Speaker, I think black lives matter and I think this Congress should be the place where America comes together to decide what we are going to do about young black men getting shot by police. Not next week, when it happens again. Not next month when it happens again. Not waiting safely until after Election Day when it happens again and again and again. Mr. Speaker, this Congress needs to come together and lead. And we need to start right now.

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