Mothers of slain children to press feds for police reforms

Nine mothers whose children were killed by police are flying to Washington next week to ask lawmakers for law enforcement reform measures.

The group, with financial backing from public interest groups and members of Congress, has organized a series of events on Capitol Hill, at the Department of Justice and at a local church located next to the offices of U.S. district attorney for the District of Columbia.

“Our politicians have been epic failures in protecting our families. We have laws that protect policeman, but no laws that protect our families when someone is killed,” said Colette Flanagan, the founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, in a statement.

{mosads}Flanagan, whose unarmed 25-year-old son was shot and killed by police last year, is flying from Dallas to speak at the events.

“Our elected officials often turn a blind eye to the killing of our children, so now we are taking our grief to their doorstep in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “They need to understand that our families are real, and that our sons — who were taken away from us so unjustly — matter.”

Eight other mothers will be telling similar stories, as national debate over the issue has been rekindled by recent news of several other unarmed children or young men killed by police officers nationwide. In each case, the officers have not been indicted, sparking outrage and calls for more accountability from law enforcement.

“I’m coming to DC for several reasons,” said Reverend Wanda Johnson, in a statement. “First, I want to get the laws changed about racial profiling. Second, I want to change the law that allows the District Attorney to try the indicted officer, which I believe is a conflict of interest. Third, I want officers to have to wear body cameras. Lastly, I want officers to be trained not to shoot to kill.”

President Obama has already asked Congress for $75 million to equip 50,000 police officers with body cameras that proponents argue would create more accountability, and point to studies where law enforcement units that use them have less complaints of excessive force.

However, the cameras’ efficacy has come under scrutiny after an officer caught on tape choking out an unarmed suspect, Eric Garner, whom police targeted for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, also had no charges filed against him.

CODEPINK, the DC Hands Up Coalition, Mothers Against Police Brutality and the National Congress of Black Women have organized the events next week, taking place on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10.

On Monday, the women plan to hold a “public forum” to discuss law enforcement reforms at the First Trinity Lutheran church.

On Tuesday, they will be speaking in the Rayburn House Building, at an event co-sponsored by Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.). Then, they will be holding a candlelight vigil outside the Department of Justice, on the corner of a busy street in downtown Washington.

It is impossible to figure out how many individuals are killed by police officers each year, according to a recent investigation by The Wall Street Journal, because reporting them is voluntary. The publication found that more than 550 shootings went untallied from federal statistics because of “quirks in the reporting system.”

The investigation found about 2,400 killings by police, as reported by 753 different police entities. There are about 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States, however.

“Nearly all police killings are deemed by the departments or other authorities to be justifiable,” according to the article.

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