Received this e-mail today from U.S. Senator Ed Markey’s (D. MA) re-election campaign:
We must abolish qualified immunity.
There is a crisis of police violence against Black and Brown Americans in the United States and qualified immunity allows police officers who abuse their power to avoid accountability. It puts them above the law. This ends now.
Yesterday, I joined Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris to introduce a resolution calling for an end to qualified immunity once and for all.
Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Chris Van Hollen have joined us as co-sponsors, but we need more of our colleagues to sign on immediately. That’s where we need your help:
If you had not heard of qualified immunity before today, I understand that. Now is a time for many of us — especially white Americans — to listen and learn about the insidious, systemic racism that pervades every aspect of our society.
Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine — meaning not a law passed by Congress. Instead, it is a legal argument developed within and accepted by the courts. It shields law enforcement from being held personally liable for their actions — meaning victims of police brutality are barred from suing their attackers. Only the municipality or department can be held accountable.
That is wrong, and the impact disproportionately harms people of color, especially Black people, who are far more likely to be victims of excessive force from law enforcement.
Racism is at the foundation of this country, rooted in our original sin of slavery. This is one of the countless ways that systemic racism manifests enables, encourages, and protects violence against people of color.
Also, this judge-made doctrine is in conflict with the laws passed by Congress. The Civil Rights Act of 1871 explicitly allows us to sue public officials, including police officers, who deprive us of our civil rights.
We cannot wait for the courts to fix this broken system. It is our responsibility in Congress to step up and end this tool of oppression now. Please add your voice to ours today.
It is my duty as an elected official to take action to dismantle the structures of systemic racism. Senator Booker, Senator Harris, and I need you to join us.
We must continue this fight today, tomorrow, and every day until we have full equality and justice in this country.
– Ed Markey