From the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus:
VLBC Statement on Failed Passage of the Qualified Immunity Bill
Richmond, VA— Today the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) was disappointed to see our Qualified Immunity bill (HB 5013) die in the House. As we are working to bring about substantial change for racial and social justice, the constant incursion against Black and Brown people was reaffirmed today when HB 5013 was defeated on the House floor. This bill was a crucial and important piece of legislation aimed towards addressing police brutality against our communities. It would have held law enforcement responsible for engaging in unlawful or abusive actions. This legislation would have provided Virginians victimized by police brutality with an avenue for redress and would also have worked to deter and prevent future incidents.
“This Special Session was called to respond to the demands of the people we represent, who desperately want to see real change to broken systems. With today’s vote we broke their hearts and have signaled to victims of excessive force at the hands of cops that the doors to our justice system remain closed,” said the bill’s chief patron Delegate Jeff Bourne (D-71st, Richmond). “The fight to create a fairer criminal justice system will go on. In 2021, I will reintroduce this critical piece of legislation.”
“Although I am disheartened by today’s vote, we will continue to push for justice before the law,” said chief co-patron Delegate Jay Jones (D-89th, Norfolk). “We remain steadfast in our commitment to giving a voice to those who do not feel seen and heard, and sharing the stories, viewpoints, and experiences of those who have been left behind.”
While today’s vote in the House was dismaying, the fight for justice and equity will march on. The VLBC was proud to see a number of measures from our Special Session Priorities pass in the House today including banning no-knock warrants; prohibiting the use of chokeholds by law enforcement; making it a hate crime for an individual to intentionally make a false 911 call on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, color, or national origin; creating a duty to intervene in another officer’s unlawful use of force and requiring police to report wrongdoing by another officer; eliminating the smell of marijuana as probable cause for a law enforcement search, and creating uniform standards and minimum qualifications for police in the Commonwealth. The VLBC was also proud to see the Juneteenth holiday bill pass the Senate and happy to see some of its bills on COVID-19 Relief and Protections pass in the House today, such as COVID-19-related worker compensation protections for teachers and first responders, voter protection laws, and prohibitions on the garnishment of emergency relief funds.
The VLBC looks forward to advancing the fight for criminal justice and police reform, and protecting Virginians both from the COVID-19 pandemic and the pandemic of systemic racism which has plagued our society for far too long.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) is made up of 23 members in the Virginia General Assembly. VLBC is committed to improving the economic, educational, political, and social conditions of African Americans and underrepresented groups in Virginia. A vital part of VLBC’s mission is to raise the consciousness of other groups to the contributions made by African Americans to the Commonwealth and the Nation.