by Mike Pudhorodsky, Candidate for Lt. Governor
The past few months we have faced some of the most difficult times not only in our country’s history but here in Virginia as well. I fully support the removing of any monument that deals with our state’s racist past. I want them to be removed safely, efficiently, and in a timely manner. These monuments represent the darkest days in our nations and states history. Those that want to keep these monuments and hold onto that past do not understand the pain and the deep mistrust that it causes in our African American communities. In addition, I stand with the protestors. I stand with the message they are conveying and I think that it is time for the police to stand down and allow voices to be heard. No peaceful protestor should be peppered spray, bullied or have their respective voices being heard by a rouge police department. Policing reform is going to be a huge discussion during the 2020 special session in August. I stand with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus in many of their proposals for that August session, including banning chokeholds, restricting the use of tear gas and other military type techniques, and banning “no knock” warrants. We also need to make sure that we call racism what it is a public health crisis here in Virginia. We also need to expand the hate crimes statutes here in Virginia to include making false 911 calls based on someone’s race and make sure we protect marginalized from being unduly racially profiled not only by the police but society as a whole. It is time to hold the police accountable as well. A database should be kept when police are accused of using excessive force and especially if they are dismissed from work because of that excessive force. Police officers should not be able to hop from department to department without being held accountable for why they left or were forced to leave one department in the first place. Expanding the use of body cams throughout Virginia will further hold police accountable for their actions in a real time way, and requiring those videos to be reviewed by an independent auditor not associated with the police department or state police. I also support an independent investigation for all police related shootings and or death at the hand of police. We need to end qualified immunity and make changes to sovereign immunity.
In regard to the criminal justice reform while a lot was accomplished in the 2020 session, we have a unique opportunity during the special session to bring more equity and equality to our criminal justice system. This includes fully legalizing marijuana and expunging the convictions of those that have had possession charges in the past. It is longer overdue to reinstate parole here in Virginia, and with that increase good behavior sentencing credits. Finally, we need to end cash bail here in Virginia and stop holding those that do not have resources to be bailed out. Too many low income and marginalized communities are affected by not being able to post bond when they are arrested for an offense. Finally, I think we need to go one smaller step forward and ban police and sheriff departments from releasing mug shots of those that are arrested. To often it leads to racial stereotyping and this needs to stop.
During these unprecedented times surrounding the Corona Virus we need to make sure that communities of color are protected. Statistics show that African Americans are more sustainable to get the Covid-19 then any other group here in the United States. We need to make sure underserved communities are protected during these times. That includes but is not limited to making sure that we put a moratorium on evictions here in Virginia, provide adequate testing and outreach to these communities. We also need to make sure that we provide adequate unemployment benefits for those that have been unemployed or under employed during this pandemic. Too often we forget those that hours have been cut and that is something that we need to focus on.
Yours in Service,