NAACP leaders call for police, criminal justice reform during General Assembly special session

Posted at 3:54 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 17:26:47-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— Virginia NAACP leaders are calling on the General Assembly to take action on hot-button issues during next week’s special session.

“For 400 years, injustice has been funded; it’s time for us to be funded for police reform and criminal justice and definitely on voting rights as well too,” said Virginia State Conference NAACP Political Action Chair Gaylene Kanoyton.

The Virginia State Conference (VSP) of the NAACP, which oversees the local NAACP branches, is issuing a call to action to the general assembly to reform legislation.

“Our criminal justice system has repeatedly sentenced our black and brown citizens more than it has our white counterparts and we no longer should accept the way that our criminal justice system is doing that,” said VSP President Robert Barnette.

The General Assembly convenes for a special session Tuesday to discuss adopting a new budget as well as criminal justice and policing reform in wake of high-profile killings of Black Americans.

“No-knock warrants and banning of chokeholds should be at the very top of the list and we should demand that police accountability,” Barnette said.

Virginia NAACP leaders are urging lawmakers to prohibit officers with criminal charges or policy violations from being hired, ban knee and chokeholds, establish citizen review boards to conduct independent investigations and greater transparency with use of force data among a list of 13 police and criminal justice reform measures.

This call for legislative changes comes after 11 commonwealth’s attorneys in Virginia wrote to the general assembly last month to advocate for similar reforms.

In regards to COVID-19 and voting protections, Virginia NAACP leaders are calling for 13 other actions including halting evictions, hazard pay and PPE for essential workers, emergency funding for food distribution, prepaid postage on vote by mail ballots and funding for mail in ballot drop boxes.

“It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road and making sure that we get justice done especially during this time especially during this session,” Kanoyton said.

The advocacy group says it wants to see legislative changes that create a more just and equitable system for all Virginia.