Former California Supreme Court Justice asks Governor Brown to sign two CACJ sponsored bills

Governor can take a stand on police violence with his pen

By Cruz Reynoso and Harry Snyder | July 21, 2015

Originally posted July 21, 2015 in the San Francisco Chronicle, Open Forum
 
Protesters push against Oakland police as they attempt to continue marching past 3rd and Washington during a rally and march called for by the Black Youth Project to protest the "stealing of black women's lives by state sponsored violence" May 23, 2015 in Oakland, Calif. Photo: Leah Millis, The Chronicle

Protesters push against Oakland police as they attempt to continue marching past 3rd and Washington during a rally and march called for by the Black Youth Project to protest the “stealing of black women’s lives by state sponsored violence” May 23, 2015 in Oakland, Calif.
Photo: Leah Millis, The Chronicle

In his long and multifaceted career in public service, Gov. Jerry Brown has made a name for himself as someone who cares about criminal justice, whether during his days as attorney general of California, or as a tough-on-crime mayor of Oakland in the early 2000s. He also governs a state that has more people die at the hands of police — more than 100 so far in 2015 — than any other state in the country.

 We know too well that there are two sides to criminal justice: The side that keeps citizens safe from unlawful activity, and the side that protects us from unfair treatment at the hands of the law. It is on the latter issue that the governor has been conspicuously silent.

In the 1990s, Brown was outspoken against the over-representation of black men in the criminal justice system, calling it a “staggering … message of absolute oppression.” In the last year, however, when protests against police brutality swept the nation and repeatedly filled California’s streets with activists, the governor declined to comment publicly on the issue until January. When citizen footage exposed a pervasive level of police misconduct, Gov. Brown made it easier for law enforcement to use video to monitor citizens, vetoing a bill that would require police to obtain a warrant before using surveillance drones on the public.

Fortunately, the governor is facing a critical opportunity to take action to solve one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time — not only with his voice, but with his pen. Three bills —AB953AB256 and SB411 — are making their way to his desk that combat unjust and unconstitutional practices in law enforcement. These bills provide much-needed refinement of laws that no longer adequately protect the people from unfair treatment and abuse at the hands of the criminal justice system…To read the full article, visit http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Governor-can-take-a-stand-on-police-violence-with-6398006.php?cmpid=gsa-sfgate-result

Cruz Reynoso is a UC Davis professor emeritus of law and a former associate justice of the California Supreme Court. Harry Snyder is a public interest advocate and lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Public Health.