June 04, 2020

Rep. Mike Levin Statement on George Floyd Protests and New Actions to Address Systemic Racial Injustice

San Juan Capistrano, CA - Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) issued a statement on the protests in response to the murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans. Representative Levin outlined actions he is taking to address systemic racial injustice in America and to reform law enforcement.

“Our country is in crisis, broken by generations of systemic racial injustice, and it’s clear that only real change will allow us to begin healing. The protests in response to the killing of George Floyd are a necessary part of that process, and I stand with peaceful demonstrators across the country. I do not support the small minority of individuals who have taken advantage of the situation to commit violent and criminal acts, and we cannot allow them to define these overwhelmingly peaceful protests. As peaceful demonstrations continue, I recognize that I must focus on listening, showing compassion, and trying to understand what it means to be Black or Brown in America - something I will never know. As I work to do that, my heart continues to break for the Floyd family, the families of David McAtee, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the families of countless innocent Americans who have been killed as a result of unnecessary violence. 

“However, thoughts and prayers have never been enough, and they’re not enough now. We need action. We need real reforms at every level of government to address the systematic racial injustice throughout our society, particularly in the criminal justice system. We need new laws to strengthen transparency and accountability in law enforcement. We need to ban unnecessary and excessive uses of force, including chokeholds, and we need to end the militarization of local police departments. 

“As we work toward real reforms, we also need to acknowledge that the vast majority of police officers are honorable people - fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, our neighbors - who risk their lives to keep our communities safe. As we saw with San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit’s decision to ban the use of a choke hold by his officers, they can and must be a part of the solution. Moving forward, I will use my office to bring our law enforcement and civil rights communities together for constructive dialogue on the path forward.

“Finally, we need leadership from the White House. The words and actions of this President have divided our country and pulled us backward. Instead of directing federal law enforcement to fire rubber bullets and deploy tear gas on peaceful protesters so he can have a photo op, we need a President who will listen and try to understand the pain that Americans are feeling right now. Ultimately, nobody - not even President Trump - can stop the wave of momentum we’re seeing toward a more just and equitable country for all. Even in these most disheartening times, the arc of the moral universe still bends toward justice.”

Rep. Levin also announced today that he is cosponsoring the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), to amend civil rights law to prohibit the use of chokeholds by law enforcement across the nation. He is also cosponsoring the bipartisan Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act of 2019, which was introduced by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). The bill establishes a bipartisan commission within the United States Commission on Civil Rights’ office tasked with examining the social disparities that disproportionately affect black men and boys in America. 

Additionally, Rep. Levin supports House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) plans to hold hearings on new federal actions that could help reduce acts of violence by law enforcement against black Americans, as well as the committee’s plan to consider a federal chokehold ban like the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2019.

Rep. Levin also supports San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit’s decision to ban the use of carotid restraints - a type of choke hold - as a use-of-force procedure in his department.

Finally, Rep. Levin continues to encourage constituents to contact his office with their priorities, concerns, or questions. Constituents can contact his office by visiting levin.house.gov or by calling (760) 599-5000.