“Recent incidents have forced us to confront some ugly truths about the persistence of racial bias in law enforcement.” — Assemblymember Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, who introduced AB 953. Photo: asmdc.org
“Recent incidents have forced us to confront some ugly truths about the persistence of racial bias in law enforcement.” — Assemblymember Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, who introduced AB 953. Photo: asmdc.org

SACRAMENTO (CBM) —A throng of protestors gathered outside the office of Gov. Jerry Brown’s on Sept. 2, following a march and rally for police reform.

A coalition of more than 800 individuals called on Brown to affirm his support for AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015. The bill addresses racial profiling by law enforcement in California.

“Recent incidents have forced us to confront some ugly truths about the persistence of racial bias in law enforcement.” — Assemblymember Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, who introduced AB 953.

The public outcry echoes growing demands for systemic police reform as the nation reels from the high-profile deaths of unarmed African-Americans over the past year. The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, to end racial and identity profiling by law enforcement.

“Recent incidents have forced us to confront some ugly truths about the persistence of racial bias in law enforcement,” said Weber. “One of our best defenses is information about who is stopped by police and why. Currently, information on these incidents isn’t provided publicly in a comprehensive way. The goal of AB 953 is to rectify this so we can make policies with the best information possible.”

The Rev. Ben McBride, director of Regional Clergy Development for PICO California, noted, “For far too long Black, indigenous, Latino, and immigrant communities have been unfairly profiled, harassed, and killed by law enforcement, [which has] gone unchecked and the state legislature has failed at protecting those most vulnerable to police misconduct.

“The passage of AB 953 is one [of the ways] state legislators can begin to root out the evil ingrained in the culture of mass criminalization that exists in our state. Black lives matter. People of color matter. We must demand that our elected officials and law enforcement officers do what they are paid to do and that is protect us,” McBride said.

With 129 people killed by law enforcement this year alone, California ranks as the state bearing the dubious record for the highest number of police-related deaths in the nation. Records show, the Los Angeles Police Department, alone, has killed more people than any other agency in the country. However, the state still does not collect, analyze basic information about police stops and searches, and the use of deadly force.

L.A. resident Ruben Bermudez was one of many protesters present whose life has been altered by police use of deadly force, His son, Eduardo, was shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies in East Los Angeles in a street encounter on Nov. 16, 2014.

Since the tragedy, Bermudez has been at the forefront of the Youth Justice Coalition, working with other families who have lost loved ones in similar confrontations, publicly highlighting the deadly encounters for “the recognition, respect, dignity and human rights of the victims,” Bermudez said.

Bermudez made the trip to Sacramento to speak at the rally on behalf of his son, struggling to hold back tears. “Eduardo was a good boy. He didn’t deserve to die like an animal in the street. His sister witnessed him getting shot. His aunt yelled at the [deputies] — ‘Please don’t shoot; he won’t hurt you.’ And they shot him down anyway.

“We will never be the same. I can’t sleep any longer. I can’t stop crying. We have to fight back,” Bermudez declared. “We have to push the legislature and governor to pass AB953 for the data.”

AB 953 moved out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is now headed to the Senate floor for a full vote.

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