Chanting “Black lives matter!” and staging a massive “die-in,” scores of people rallied Wednesday at the state Capitol in support of legislation that seeks to stamp out racial profiling by law enforcement.
Protesters marched through the streets and then crowded the halls outside the office of Gov. Jerry Brown, demanding his signature for Assembly Bill 953, which still must clear the state Senate before it reaches the governor’s desk. It would require law enforcement to gather and report data on stops, something advocates hope will illuminate the extent of racial profiling.
The bill, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, was one of several police-focused measures introduced this year amid tensions and violence between officers and communities. Critics, in urging its defeat in the Legislature, have derided the proposal as too costly.
Though demonstrators chanted for an audience with Brown, he was not in Sacramento. Instead, Weber called on Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to accept a petition from the demonstrators.
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“You’re making your voice heard today. That’s your right, your responsibility,” Atkins said. “We’re going to keep working on this.”
After addressing the crowd outside the Capitol, Weber said her bill was necessary because of California’s comparatively high death rate at the hands of police.
“When we look at the issues of racial profiling we discover that African Americans and Latinos are stopped two and three times more than anybody else, and yet have a lower arrest record,” she said, as activists read the names of victims. “So, obviously you’re stopping them without a cause to arrest them.”
The stop, Weber said, becomes the foundation “for other things happening” after.