Ferguson Church Hosts Congressional Black Caucus
Wellspring United Methodist Church in Ferguson hosted nine members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Sunday for a service commemorating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The chair of the CBC, G.K. Butterfield, told the congregation that all 46 members of the caucus are committed to comprehensive criminal justice reform.
“And so we have come to commemorate Dr. King. But we’ve also come to promise you, to promise Ferguson and promise America that the issue of criminal justice reform is the centerpiece of the CBC agenda in the 114th Congress,” Butterfield said.
“We will use our positions collectively to expose racism when and where it is found,” he added. “We will use our positions to introduce legislation to address the need for systemic change in the criminal justice system. Changes not only regarding the means by which law enforcement officers carry out their duties, and certainly that is of paramount importance. But we also must address the misconduct of prosecutors and grand juries in this country.”
U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay (D-University City) is the head of the CBC working group that is drafting legislation to reform the justice system.
Clay said the working group is “exploring legislation that would complement what President Obama did as far as having body cameras for police officers” and “looking at the possibility of changing the way that police shootings and police killings are investigated and by whom.”
“I’m not one of those in this community who wants it rushed. I want it to be thorough and complete in order for us to get to the facts of this case and to get to the truth and to perhaps deliver justice.”
Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee also added another facet to possible legislation the CBC might propose. After meeting with several protesters last night who told them that they had been targeted by police, she said that they might pursue legislation “for the ceasing of that harassment.”
No time frame for when the legislation might be formally introduced was given, but Jackson Lee did say that, “the Congressional Black Caucus, with its numbers of members, is going to make sure that this congress does not end its work without passing criminal justice reform and giving relief to the many Fergusons around the nation.”
The 114th Congress opened on January 3, 2015 and runs through January 3, 2017.
Ongoing Federal Investigations
No time frame was given for when federal investigations into Ferguson might draw to a close either.
Clay mentioned the investigations into the death of Michael Brown and area police departments in both his speech before the Wellspring congregation and during a meeting with reporters.
“I recently spoke with Attorney General Holder, who told me that this investigation would be thorough and complete, unlike what the St. Louis County grand jury did,” Clay said.
“I’m not one of those in this community who wants it rushed,” he added. “I want it to be thorough and complete in order for us to get to the facts of this case and to get to the truth and to perhaps deliver justice.”
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.