Payne Co-Hosts CBC Special Order Hour on Accountability, Equality, and Diversity

Jun 1, 2015

On May 18, 2015, Congressman Payne, Jr. co-hosted the Congressional Black Caucus Special Order Hour. The topic was "The Urgency of Now: Addressing Reform, Accountability, Equality, and Diversity" and addressed criminal justice reform, law enforcement accountability, equality, and the importance of diverse representation in the workplace. Below are Congressman Payne, Jr.'s closing remarks, as prepared for delivery, and video: 

In closing, I thank Congresswoman Kelly for co-hosting this special order hour on criminal justice reform and law enforcement accountability.

It is through these special orders that we are able to speak directly to our constituents about the valuable work the Congressional Black Caucus does to reduce injustice and promote equality for African American communities.

Our criminal justice and police systems are in a state of crisis.

Too often, under these systems, black lives are treated as though they don’t matter.  

We saw this last month, when Baltimore’s Freddie Gray died in police custody from a brutal spine injury.

Such tragedies erode trust between our communities and police.

This problem is compounded by a wide range of factors, from disturbing gaps in incarceration rates to racial disparities in sentencing.

We need a system that holds criminals accountable and protects law enforcement while at the same time ensuring the safety and equal treatment of our communities.

This includes implementing police-body cameras in order to promote transparency and accountability while deterring wrongdoing.

At the same time, we need to make sure that law enforcement officers don’t resort to discriminatory policing tactics.

It’s undeniable that racial profiling remains an ongoing crisis in our nation.

There is a clear and growing need to ensure a robust and comprehensive federal commitment to end racial profiling by law enforcement agencies. The End Racial Profiling Act, which I proudly support, would do just that.

Of course, real accountability means that we will at times need independent investigations of police-related deaths.

We’re glad to see Attorney General Lynch launch an investigation into the Baltimore Police Department, with the stated goal of assisting police departments across the country in developing their practices.

In less than one month on the job, Attorney General Lynch is already making a difference.

As we reflect on the dire need to reform our criminal justice and police systems, we need to advance the cause of equality in all contexts.

This means expanding diversity in the workforce, from the mailroom to the boardroom, from the manufacturing industry to the technology sector.

Many of the challenges we face today are great, but as a caucus, we remain committed to solving them.

Thank you. 

And with that, Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.