Black Lives Matter Confronting GOP In Washington

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Phillip Stucky Political Reporter
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Black Lives Matter will travel to Washington, D.C., to lobby against bipartisan criminal justice reform Tuesday, according to reports.

The Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100) will team up with the National Black Justice Coalition and other groups to take their message to congressional Republicans, who they say do not understand how to fix the system.

“They haven’t had to feel directly the urgency of this movement because I don’t think movement-building organizations have been on the Hill, in committee meetings, making phone calls,” BYP 100 policy chair Janaé E. Bonsu told Politico. “Perhaps because of that, they may not take it seriously. But I think that Sept. 14 is the day that we want to mark that change.”

The groups want to reduce the emphasis on law enforcement that many Republican lawmakers exhibit in policy decisions. Instead, the groups argue that investments in education and social services will go a long way towards fixing the problem.

The groups also reject sentencing reform measures present in the bipartisan bill because they don’t affect sentences for those already in prison, and the bill provides for new mandatory minimums, a practice the groups don’t support.

The bill is “one of those bills that sounds good on the face of it until you dig into what’s actually in it,” Bonsu said. “It’s probably better to leave it alone and try again in the next session with a better bill. But I can’t support piecemeal criminal justice reform.”

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told Politico that the bill is due to appear before the House this month. [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell obviously is concerned about dividing our caucus particularly this close to an election, and I share that concern. This needs to be done but I think we can wait until after the election to do it,” Cornyn said.

Not everyone agrees with Cornyn or Black Lives Matter. “Sentencing reform is more than unnecessary—it will undermine a system that is working and will result in thousands of innocent Americans being victimized,” the federal prosecutor’s union told Politico in a presentation done in conjunction with the National Association of United States Assistant Attorneys.

The local Black Lives Matter group in Cleveland, Ohio, formally endorsed Republican Sen. Rob Portman in August due to his criminal policy stance, and the national movement wants more Republicans to join their cause.

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