June 9, 2020

George Floyd’s murder – and the deaths, abuse, and mistreatment of so many Black Americans – are rooted in the lack of police accountability and the deep, systemic racism ingrained in so many of our institutions across the country. We must change the systems and end the killings – justice delayed is justice denied. That’s why I stood and knelt with protesters outside the Capitol and why I'm determined to bring their passion for change inside the congressional chambers. 

Last week, I went to the Senate floor to call for justice and for immediate action in three areas – ensuring police accountability, ending abusive practices, and collecting data to provide transparency. I was proud to join Senators Booker and Harris, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Democratic leadership in introducing legislation yesterday to meet those objectives. The legislation would establish mechanisms to hold police accountable, ban abusive practices like chokeholds, establish a national registry to report misconduct, and end virtual immunity from lawsuits. You can read more about the bill here. These measures are necessary to better protect individuals, communities, and all those police officers who do keep their oaths to faithfully protect the communities they serve. 

I’m calling on Senate Republicans to act on this bill now. We must meet the urgency of this moment. We can and must do better in this country. Ensuring liberty and justice for all should not be a partisan issue. Together, we must continue raising our voices to ensure we implement the changes required. 

While this bill is a crucial first step – our fight does not stop here.

Our system must be centered in restorative justice. We have an obligation at every level of government to uproot and destroy racism embedded within our institutions and social structures with the same kind of deliberate action that put it there in the first place. We must commit ourselves as a country to eliminating deep inequities, including in education, health care, housing, and economic opportunity. And we need to overhaul our criminal justice system.

I’m encouraged to see and hear so many Marylanders speaking out in the name of justice and equality. I will continue working to eliminate systemic racism in all its ugly forms so our nation can live up to its promise of equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunity for all.

Chris Van Hollen