A picture of Representative Bobby L. Rush
Bobby R.
Democrat IL 1

About Rep. Bobby
  • Excessive Use of Force By Police

    by Representative Bobby L. Rush

    Posted on 2015-12-03

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    RUSH. Mr. Speaker, I rise to address this esteemed House of Representatives on an issue that is facing the American people, an issue that is facing our great Nation from coast to coast. This is the issue of wanton, senseless murders of unarmed young Black men and women throughout this Nation.

    This past year, Mr. Speaker, we have all seen on the many news platforms all across this Nation--the morning news, the noon news, the evening news--all have been punctuated with videotapes of unarmed Black men mostly, Hispanic men, men and women, boys and girls, teenagers, being shot down in cold blood by just a few--I want to emphasize ``a few''--rogue cops that hunt our Nation's cities, that hide behind a badge and a gun. These rogue police officers operate not to serve and protect, but to commit murder and mayhem and use their badge, their official status to get away with it.

    {time} 1400 This popular television show, ``How to Get Away With Murder,'' could use many departments all across this Nation as a formula, indeed as the plot of ``How to Get Away With Murder.'' I bear witness that this has been going on, these murders--wanton, senseless, lawless murders--have been going on in this Nation for far too long.

    Last year, Mr. Speaker, at this same time I stood before the Members of this body sharing with the Members of Congress the life and the murder of my best friends in Chicago, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. They were both members of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party.

    They were young men full of leadership abilities, young men who were committed to serving their neighbor, young men who were committed to try to uplift the African American community and similarly situated communities all across this Nation.

    At this very time last year, I talked about December 4, 1969, the day that Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed by the Chicago Police Department and the State's Attorney's police department in my city of Chicago. They were shot.

    Our pathologists indicated that, at the time that the police raided their apartment, Fred Hampton lay sleeping in his bed, that he had been drugged with a drug called Seconal, and that Fred had in his body at the time of his murder enough Seconal to immobilize an elephant. That is what the science and our pathologists indicated to us.

    On December 4, 1969, at 4 o'clock in the morning, members of the Chicago Police Department sneaked into the streets on the west side of the city of Chicago in utility trucks, trucks that had been decorated with the signage of the local gas company, and came in with murder in their hearts. They knocked on the door of the apartment.

    Mark Clark answered: ``Who is it?'' The police at the front door said: ``Tommy.'' Mark said: ``Tommy who?'' The police at the front answered: ``Tommy Gun, Tommy Gun.'' At that time, after kicking the door down, they came in shooting with a machine gun and other automatic weapons, aiming to kill everybody in that apartment.

    After the first shot was fired in the front door, then that was a signal to those who were gathered in the rear, and they came bursting in, firing. Ninety-nine shots all total went into that apartment.

    A Federal grand jury indicated after the investigations were concluded that possibly only one shot exited that apartment. One shot fired out and 99 fired in. Cold-blooded murder 46 years ago.

    Fast-forward to today. All across this Nation cops are killing citizens, cold blooded, without any justification, and getting away with it. It is not only in Chicago, but all across this Nation, all across America.

    Dontre Hamilton was a 31-year-old African American male killed by the Milwaukee Police Department in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 30, 2014, just a little over a year ago.

    Eric Garner, an unarmed 43-year-old father, was killed by the New York City Police Department on July 17, 2014, a little over a year ago.

    On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed teenager, was killed by the Ferguson, Missouri, police department, a little over a year ago.

    A little over a year ago, Mr. Speaker, Ezell Ford, an unarmed 25- year-old mentally ill man, was killed by the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles, California, August 11, 2014, a little over a year ago.

    Mr. Speaker, Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old teenager, was killed by a member of the Chicago Police Department on October 20, 2014, a little over a year ago.

    A little over a year ago, Mr. Speaker, in Cleveland, Ohio, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, was killed by the Cleveland Police Department on November 22, 2014.

    In the State of my birth, in DeKalb County, Georgia, Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old unarmed Air Force veteran, was killed by the DeKalb County Police Department on March 6, 2015, less than a year ago.

    Less than a year ago, Nicholas Thomas, a 23-year-old unarmed Black man, again in my birth State of Georgia, in Smyrna, Georgia, was killed by the Smyrna Police Department on March 24, 2015, less than a year ago.

    Less than a year ago, Mr. Speaker, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man, while in custody of the Baltimore Police Department in Baltimore, Maryland, was killed on April 12, 2015, less than a year ago.

    We all remember Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old woman who was found hanging in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, on July 13, 2015, less than a year ago.

    The list goes on, Mr. Speaker.

    November 16, 2015, Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old unarmed Black man, was killed by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department, less than a month ago.

    Mr. Speaker, there are many, many others. In my city, a few years back, about 3 years ago, Rekia Boyd was killed by a police officer who was out of uniform, firing over his shoulder and striking Rekia Boyd in her head, killing her.

    The now-terminated ex-police superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Garry McCarthy, at the time of Rekia Boyd's murder had the unmitigated gall to stand before the citizens of Chicago and say that this unarmed, young Black woman who was killed was the target, that the police officer aimed at the person who he killed.

    {time} 1415 This statement has been repudiated so many, many times. He fired over his shoulder into a crowd of people.

    There is a conspiracy in our police departments, a cancer in our police departments, all across our very Nation. State by State, urban area by urban [[Page H9005]] area, large cities and small cities, young Black men and young Black women are targets, fair game, for some who are wearing a badge and a gun and hiding behind a uniform and a vow that they don't believe in and that doesn't govern their lives and their official and unofficial duty.

    They don't believe in serving and protecting. They believe in: How can we commit murder and get away with it? How can we murder those who don't look like us, murder those who we stereotypically view as criminals and thugs? We have a right because we wear a badge. We have a gun and we have a uniform to hide behind. We have an unmitigated right to shoot them down at will.

    There are laws in this Nation that protect even wild animals from being killed.

    In Chicago, Illinois, my city, there are only about 30 officers who have in excess of 10 citizen complaints against them. This police officer who was just indicted for the first time in the history of our city--only one police officer indicted for the murder of an unarmed Black man in Chicago--had 18 citizen complaints against him--18--mostly for excessive use of force.

    Why was he even on the street? Why was he wearing a uniform? Why were our tax dollars being used to pay for his livelihood when he had no appreciation for the lives and the rights of American citizens 18 times? He shot Laquan McDonald while Laquan was walking away from him. That is what the video showed. Laquan McDonald wasn't even within 20 feet of this police officer, now ex-police officer.

    But he shot him 16 times, 15 times when Laquan McDonald was on the ground. He couldn't have threatened him at all. He fired 16 rounds, 15 of them while Laquan McDonald was on the ground. He fired 16 rounds in 15 seconds.

    Forty-six years later we have these kinds of police atrocities occurring throughout the Nation. It is up to this body, Mr. Speaker, this Congress, to finally stand up and protect all of the people of this great Nation from these rogue cops who are roaming to and fro in our communities mercilessly, wantonly murdering our citizens, mostly Black and Latino young men and young women.

    Mr. Speaker, I will be introducing in a matter of days a resolution to establish a permanent select committee on the excessive use of force by America's police departments, a permanent and select committee on excessive use of force by America's--yours and mine, the Members of this body--police departments.

    Mr. Speaker, if we can have a select committee on Planned Parenthood and women's health, we can have a select committee on excessive use of force by America's police departments.

    This select committee will be authorized and directed to conduct a full and complete investigation and study and to issue a report and recommendations of its findings to the House of Representatives regarding each of the following: Number one, a uniform definition of excessive use of force; Number two, create national guidelines on excessive use of force; Number three, collect accurate and reliable data on police shootings and use of excessive force, both lethal and nonlethal; Number four, implement and create a national database to make available public data of citizen complaints filed against police officers and departments; Number five, include demographic data on police officers involved in shootings in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program; Number six, require mandatory FBI reporting of police departments on the number of justifiable homicides committed by those departments; Number seven, create effective training methods and mental counseling of police officers to increase their understanding of the word ``threat'' and weed out any indication of racial animus and hostility; Number eight, create adequate training for police officers dealing with mentally ill persons.

    Yes, we have mentally ill patients and police do not know how to deal with them. Under this resolution, this select committee will require training for our Nation's police to deal with mentally ill patients.

    Number nine, require transparency of internal police discipline and police accountability; Number ten, report to this Congress on the rising cost of lawsuits and settlements that are indicative of problematic policing and civil rights violations and civil rights abuses.

    This is the resolution that I will be introducing over the next few days, Mr. Speaker.

    Mr. Speaker, I just want to conclude by repeating something that I said last year, and I intend to repeat this throughout the remaining days of my life.

    {time} 1430 The murders, the political assassinations, the cold-blooded murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark on December 4, 1969, will not be in vain.

    The murders of American citizens, particularly young, unarmed African American boys and girls, Hispanic American boys and girls, other minorities, unarmed mentally ill Americans, unarmed White Americans, these murders by America's police agencies must come to a screeching halt. Justice demands it. This Congress ought to promote it.

    This Congress, this esteemed body, ought to protect all of our citizens. We have to show and demonstrate, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that just because you have a badge, you wear a badge, just because you are dressed in a uniform, just because you have a gun, with a license to arrest and detain, just because you have those assets, those powers, you do not have a right, the authority, the power to commit cold- blooded murder. And don't believe, not for 1 millisecond, that you will continue to get away with it.

    Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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