Virginia Legislative Black Caucus announces policies, proposals in special session

Updated: Jun. 24, 2020 at 12:11 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) will be announcing policies, proposals and priorities in regards to social and political change in a special session.

“I think we have an opportunity to, with the priorities, to just help dismantle some of the systems that are in place,” said State Delegate Delores McQuinn, (D) 70th District.

The VLBC plans to introduce the following legislation during the next special session of the Virginia General Assembly:

Address & Combat Racism Directly by:

  • Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Uncovering Racial Disparities in all Areas of Policy & Creating Solutions to Bridge the Gaps
  • Expanding Hate Crimes to Include False 911 Calls Based on Race
  • Requiring Courts to Publish Racial and Other Demographic Data of all Low-level Offenses

Hold Police Accountable, Strengthen Regulation, & Improve Transparency by:

  • Creating a Civilian Review Board with Subpoena Power
  • Ending Qualified Immunity & Making Changes to Sovereign Immunity
  • Establishing a Statewide Officer Database
  • Standardizing and Reforming Police Administration, Training, and Accountability
  • Expanding Police Decertification Criteria
  • Expanding the Use of Body Cams
  • Requiring Independent Investigations for All Police-Involved Shootings/Deaths

Prevent Law Enforcement Excessive Use of Force by:

  • Defining and Restricting Excessive Use of Force
  • Banning the Use of Chokeholds
  • Restricting the Use of Tear Gas and Militarization Tactics and Weapons Against Civilians
  • Passing “Breonna’s Law” to End No-Knock Warrants

Replace Law Enforcement’s Role in Certain Areas with Trained Specialists by:

  • Implementing the “Marcus Alert” to Require Behavioral/Mental Health Professionals to Respond to those thought to be having Mental Health Crises
  • DIVESTING from Large Law Enforcement Budgets & INVESTING More in Communities
  • Reducing SRO Presence in Schools & Replacing them with Mental Health Professionals

Continue the Fight for Criminal Justice Reform by:

  • Implementing Automatic Expungement
  • Reinstituting Parole
  • Passing Cash Bail Reform
  • Increasing Good Behavior Sentence Credits
  • Legalizing Marijuana

Pass COVID-19 Relief & Protections by:

  • Expanding Protections Related to Housing & Evictions
  • Providing Rent and Mortgage Relief
  • Classifying Frontline Workers as Essential Workers
  • Requiring Hazard Pay and PPE for Essential Workers
  • Guaranteeing Paid Sick Leave

“There have been calls to reallocate funding from large law enforcement budgets towards critical areas in communities. There have been calls for greater accountability towards law enforcement who engage in violent, abusive, or unlawful behaviors,” the VLBC said in a statement. “And on a larger scale, this moment is calling on leaders to combat institutional racism and societal discrimination that exists in the criminal justice system, economic structures, housing, education, in healthcare, mental health, in environmental policy, and many other areas.”

The VLBC, as leaders, wants to take the next steps to ensure that there is a bold swing towards greater racial and social justice change across the state.

“How do we create a paradigm shift for police to be a part of the community,” said Delegate McQuinn. “And I think some of this legislation we’re talking about patroning certainly will hold them accountable, will begin to create a better relationship between African American communities and communities of color and the police department.”

A date for the special session has not been set but is expected to happen later this summer.

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