News Release

Police Brutality; Welfare “Reform”

JILL NELSON
Editor of the recently released book Police Brutality: An Anthology, Nelson said today: “On the day President Clinton addressed the NAACP, the mayor of Philadelphia was not present because a dozen or more of his officers were caught on video beating and kicking a suspect. Clearly there is a problem when it comes to policing citizens of color and respecting our constitutional rights… In the last decade we have seen millions of dollars go into beefing up police forces nationally and at this moment we have this much-lauded drop in street crime. It is time we look at re-imagining and retraining the police as to what their role is in a democratic society. We need to take a hard look at the use of deadly force; we need to have diversity not just be a sidebar, but who America really is.”

ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ
Syndicated columnist and author of Justice: A Question of Race, Rodriguez said today: “We focus on police brutality when we have these big video cases. Do we just react to each one and say that it’s bad or do we take it to another level? Police brutality affects whoever is dehumanized, usually people of color, but at times, political protesters of all colors. At best an officer is fired, but what we really need is a national truth commission. Instead, we have politicians addressing the NAACP or the National Council of La Raza pretending to speak like the people they are talking to. When I grew up, politicians would come wearing a big sombrero and eat a taco and somehow that was supposed to make us want to vote for them. It’s like putting on black face or brown face. Both Gore and Bush are guilty of this kind of thing. It’s not a coincidence that many people are alienated from politics.”
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VAN JONES
National executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and executive director of Bay Area Police Watch, Jones said today: “Clinton has been all rhetoric and little action in getting rid of the problem of police brutality. There have been conferences, there has been a meaningless executive order against ‘Driving While Black,’ but there has been little done with any real teeth. The Justice Department conducted an investigation into corruption in the Philadelphia police department, but obviously there’s been little progress made.”

GWENDOLYN MINK
Professor of politics at the University of California at Santa Cruz and author of Welfare’s End, Mink said today: “With the notable exception of affirmative action, the Clinton-Gore administration hasn’t tackled the most resilient and pernicious manifestations of racism and inequality. And even on affirmative action, where Clinton and Gore have held the line against GOP assaults, they’ve also moved the line: their ‘mend-it-don’t-end-it’ approach is a concession to conservative critics. This same sort of New Democrat concordance with conservatives keeps capital punishment alive and brought us welfare ‘reform.’ No surprise, then, that Gore never mentioned welfare, let alone welfare justice, in laying out his civil rights agenda to the NAACP.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167