06.09.20

Building a Better Future

Hello Folks –

I hope this finds you well and that you are keeping safe.

Last week was a call to action – as thousands across our region, our nation, and our world marched to demand justice in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black Americans. I share this pain—and the desire for change in our country and justice for their families. 

Right here at home, we’ve felt the pain and anguish of the death of Manuel Ellis, a Tacoma resident and father who was killed in police custody. On Wednesday, I joined the Tacoma community in mourning him. His life mattered—just as the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others mattered. These families—and our nation—deserve transparency, accountability, and justice.

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I am thankful that Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards requested - and Governor Jay Inslee agreed to - an independent review of Mr. Ellis’ death. As the Governor said, “Washingtonians deserve every assurance that investigations and charging decisions related to police shootings and deaths of people in police custody are handled with urgency, independence, and commitment to justice.” I couldn’t agree more.

Pursuing Justice & Accountability

Last week I was on a phone call with my colleague, the amazing John Lewis. He reminded us to keep the faith, to not give up in working for justice, and to keep our eyes on the prize. He also said what gives him the most hope are the young people who are demanding change and justice in this country. On Saturday, I joined some of those young people - in Silverdale and on Bainbridge Island. They gave me hope, too.

I also spent much of the last week listening, learning, and hearing from Black leaders across our country and region. I led a call of the 100+ Member New Democrat Coalition with our colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus to commit to working together in order to create a more just and fair nation. I also joined the NAACP Bremerton and local law enforcement leadership for a conversation to discuss issues ranging from law enforcement training to community involvement, as well as efforts to ensure accountability.

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I also spoke with many community leaders who shared their insights on this moment – and the way forward.

I know that now is not only the time to listen to our fellow Americans’ lived experiences – but also to take action. That’s why I’m supporting legislation that I believe can deliver important information to help solve some of the injustices facing Black Americans - and to immediately improve the practices of law enforcement agencies.

  • I believe it is important to recognize what brought us to this moment – instances of police brutality and the excessive use of force. That’s why I joined a resolution with my colleagues to condemn that violence.
  • I believe that our cities, towns, and neighborhoods are not war zones – and should not be treated as such. That’s why I am a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act to prevent the distribution of excessive military-grade weapons and equipment to local communities.
  • I believe that getting to solutions for law enforcement agencies requires understanding problems. That’s why I am a co-sponsor of legislation to require federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to collect, compile, and submit data to U.S. Department of Justice regarding incidents of deadly force to increase accountability. While the transparency of this data is critical, we know that additional reforms are needed to put an end to these incidents of brutality. With that in mind, I am a co-sponsor of the George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust Integrity Act - a measure that would call for new policing standards and accreditations, and drive reforms in oversight and accountability.
  • I believe that we must lead reforms to address systemic racism in policing activities. That is why I’m a co-sponsor of the End Racial Profiling Act, which institutes a prohibition on racial profiling, mandates the inclusion of training on racial profiling issues as a part of federal law enforcement training, and requires the Attorney General to produce periodic reports documenting ongoing discriminatory profiling practices.
  • I believe that we have an obligation to put an end to dangerous and reckless policing tactics, including the use of chokeholds. In fact, hundreds of law enforcement agencies have committed to banning the use of chokeholds. That’s why I’m supporting the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act to end their use.
  • I believe, as your federal representative, that we should be pushing states to take action. That’s why I’m co-sponsoring the Police Training and Independent Review Act to establish incentives for states to require enrollees at law enforcement academies to receive training on racial bias, cultural diversity, and police interaction with people with disabilities, people with mental illness, and new immigrants. This bill will also incentivize states to adopt laws requiring independent investigations and prosecutions related to the use of deadly force.
  • I believe that in addition to improving our law enforcement system, we need broader and more substantial action to address the systemic injustices that disadvantage Black Americans. That’s why I’m supporting a bipartisan proposal led by the Congressional Black Caucus to establish a commission on the Social Status of Black Men & Boys at the United States Commission on Civil Rights to examine these disparities and propose even more solutions.

I know that this just a start and that there is a great deal of work ahead. Following the Congressional Black Caucus’ lead, I will continue to support a comprehensive legislative path forward in Congress to make real structural changes that address the systemic inequities facing Black Americans. That includes the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 – a comprehensive bill I helped introduce today with the Congressional Black Caucus focused on bold changes to combat police brutality, raise standards, and address racial injustice. The Justice in Policing Act would, among other provisions: establish a national standard for the operation of police departments; mandate data collection on police encounters; reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs; and streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.

While there is no single policy that will rectify centuries of systemic racism and to reform policing, this legislation presents a first step toward driving real change and I am committed to taking action. With the support of over 165 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 U.S. Senators, I’m hopeful that Congress will take action and pass this bill in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Working for You

Providing Resources for Self-Care

Last week was a challenging week for our country on the heels of a challenging several months. It is natural for people to feel anger and pain right now. At the same time, I’ve heard from a number of folks who are struggling to get through the day. With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips from Joe Roszak of Kitsap Mental Health Services.

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Helping Small Businesses

Our local Chambers of Commerce are doing vitally important work to support local employers during this tough time. I was grateful to join the Forks Chamber for virtual lunch and Q&A to talk about the work I’m doing to support small businesses and their employees. Thanks to all who joined!

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Protecting Our Elections

During these unprecedented times, we should be doing everything we can to strengthen the voice of the American people in our democracy by making it easier to vote. Last week, I hosted a Facebook Live Town Hall with End Citizens United & Let America Vote Action Fund President Tiffany Muller to discuss the importance of protecting our elections and ensuring that no American needs to choose between their health and their right to vote.

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Recognizing Our Students

We have immensely talented young students across the region - and that includes Quincy Rumpke - the winner of the 2020 Congressional Art Competition for Washington’s sixth congressional district. Each year, this competition provides our students with an opportunity to showcase their artistic abilities – and earn a chance to win a trip to our nation’s capital. The artwork submitted this year was beyond impressive and I want to thank everyone who participated!

Meet Quincy, who attends Central Kitsap High School, and hear about the inspiration behind their winning piece: Fairyland.

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"Fairyland” by Quincy Rumpke

OK – that’s it for now folks. Please continue to take care of yourselves – and one another. As always, it’s an honor to represent you.

Sincerely,

Derek Kilmer