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SPLC Action Fund joins 70 civil rights groups to oppose the ‘Protect and Serve Act’

Congress may vote this week on the “Protect and Serve Act,” a bill that draws a false equivalence between attacks against police and hate crimes directed at people because of their personal characteristics. This unnecessary legislation would not enhance public safety – but would undermine civil rights.

SPLC Action Fund joined seventy civil rights organizations in a letter asking Congress to reject this measure. We stand with the Leadership Conference, LDF, NAACP, ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, and organizations representing a wide range of American communities to oppose the legislation.

The measure duplicates existing protections for officers at a time when acts of violence against Black communities are on the rise with no legislative response for police accountability in sight.

We need Congress to focus on the needs of communities that face targeted violence. There are already laws in place that punish crimes against police officers. The federal government and all 50 states have laws on the books that enhance penalties for crimes committed against police officers. This bill would extend protections similar to hate crime laws to officers. There are several reasons to oppose this effort:

  • This bill draws a false equivalence between attacks against police and hate crimes directed at people because of their personal characteristics and perpetuates a dangerous narrative that law enforcement officers are under attack;
  • Federal hate crime laws exist to address gaps in state law for protected
    communities, but this is a duplication of laws that already exist both at the federal and state levels;
  • The measure would do nothing to enhance public safety, nor would it address systematic police violence, which this Congress has shamefully neglected to do.

Congress has not done anything to address police accountability and provide justice for far too many lives lost to fatal police encounters, instead they are focusing on this bill and other dangerous bills.

Congress needs to prioritize ending police misconduct. Click below to send a note to your senator:

Oppose the bill

The SPLC Action Fund has an experienced team to advance justice in Washington. A new member of the team is Theresa Lau, our senior policy counsel for Eradicating Poverty.

She joins our federal policy team led by LaShawn Warren, our chief policy officer. It includes Lisa Borden, our senior policy counsel for International Advocacy, who just represented us at the UN’s expert panel on racism in law enforcement, Michael Lieberman, senior policy counsel for Hate and Extremism, who helps us protect the most vulnerable communities, and myself, senior policy counsel, Decarceration & Criminal Legal System Reform and I focus on reducing the number of adults and youth who are incarcerated in this country.

Federal hate crime laws are critical to filling the gaps between state and federal law on behalf of vulnerable communities.

The Protect and Serve Act does no such thing. It duplicates existing laws and shifts the focus away from the problems Congress has not yet addressed — ensuring accountability for police misconduct and abuse. Please take action with us today to ensure Congress has its priorities straight.

Photo at top: In a 2017 photo, D.C. Metropolitan Police officers stand in formation during Inauguration Day protests. (Credit: B Christopher/Alamy Stock Photo)