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PLBC congratulates PA recipients of the 2020 HBCU Competitiveness Scholarship

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Rabb lauds passage of his measure to stop sexual assaults in police custody

(13 hours ago)

HARRISBURG, July 7 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today said he is honored that legislation he introduced 18 months ago to stop sexual assaults in police custody is on its way to becoming law. Rabb said his measure (H.B. 1807) to close a dangerous loophole that has allowed police who sexually assault a person in custody to use sexual consent as a defense was amended into legislation (H.B. 256) relating to corrections institutions. “This is another victory for Pennsylvanians who took to the streets across our commonwealth demanding real police accountability,” Rabb said. “While we have a long way to go in order to change the system and right the wrongs of the past and present, we must commit ourselves to destroying its toolbox, tool by treacherous tool.” Rabb’s H.B. 1807 was among nearly 20 Democratic bills that were presented to House Republican leadership on June 8 when a handful of Black legislators commandeered the Speaker’s rostrum demanding immediate legislative action on police violence and police accountability. After bipartisan negotiation, House Republican leadership agreed to support four Democratic bills, which have now been passed unanimously in both chambers of the General Assembly, including Rabb’s legislation (amended into H.B. 1841) to create a game-changing statewide law enforcement misconduct database. “Police officers are supposed to use their authoritative power to protect the public, Read more

PLBC commends unanimous affirmative vote for police reform legislation

(Jun 24, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 24 – Today, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus expressed tremendous gratitude to the House for their unanimous support of H.B. 1841 and H.B. 1910, which would improve police training and accountability. Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, introduced H.B. 1841, which would require employers to disclose employment information to a law enforcement agency that is conducting a background investigation of an applicant, and to permit a court to compel the release of such employment information if the employer fails to comply. The bill would also free the applicant’s previous employers from civil liability for sharing employment information in good faith with a police department looking to hire a new officer. It also includes an amendment introduced by state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., to require law enforcement agencies to keep detailed personnel records that include all substantiated criminal, civil and ethics complaints, as well as the reason and circumstances surrounding the separation of each officer. Rep. Dan Williams, D-Chester, introduced H.B. 1910, which would require police officers to receive training to recognize the signs of child abuse and childhood trauma. It includes an amendment containing Rep. Jason Dawkins’ own legislation that would require officers to undergo PTSD training after incidents involving deadly force. It would also allow commanding officers to request Read more

PLBC mourns Dominique Fells

(Jun 12, 2020)

PHILADELPHIA, June 12 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today mourned the death of Dominque Fells, a Black trans woman who was murdered in Philadelphia this week, and called for greater emphasis on addressing the growing crisis of violence against Black transgender people. “The transgender community has faced unspeakable violence for too long. Their stories have been silenced and overlooked,” said state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila. and PLBC chairman. “We will continue to say Dominique’s name, as well as the names of so many other transgender people who were killed for simply being themselves. When we say Black Lives Matter, we mean Black trans lives too.” "What was done to Dominique Fells is horrific, and those responsible must be held accountable," state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila. and PLBC vice chairwoman, said. "Dominique was a beautiful Black woman. Her life mattered. "The brutalizing of Black people must stop," Bullock continued. "Black trans women are Black women. They are our sisters. And yet we see them killed and assaulted at an even higher rate than other groups of people. They deserve the dignity and security that every woman, every person deserves." The lawmakers said they want to open a dialogue with the community, advocates, law enforcement and others to address the crisis and to identify solutions Read more

PLBC members protest police brutality

(Jun 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 8 – Today, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus were joined by some of their Democratic colleagues to protest police brutality. “George Floyd’s death sparked powerful and emotional protests across the country,” Kinsey said. “People are wondering whether they can trust their government to protect them, and we must show them we can. We have the power to change an unjust system that has held Black and white Pennsylvanians to different standards.” Following the protest, Speaker Turzai said he would welcome a special session to review police reform bills, like Kinsey’s bill which would outlaw the use of the standard chokehold and define positional asphyxia as any action that inhibits breath or the flow of blood to the brain due to physical position. The protest was planned by House members on the Police Reform Working Group, which also includes the chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, as well as several attorneys. Last week, the group put forward several proposals to address law enforcement misconduct and police-community relations. Members of the group include: Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Stephen Kinsey House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris House Democratic Chairwoman Joanna McClinton House Philadelphia Delegation Chairman Jason Dawkins State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila. State Rep. Read more

Lawmakers call on Republican leadership to take up police-community legislation

(Jun 04, 2020)

Pittsburgh-area lawmakers, PLBC members, urged House leadership to address numerous law enforcement reform bills that have been languishing in House committees and to add session days if necessary Read more

Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus calls for peaceful protests and justice in George Floyd case

(May 31, 2020)

On behalf of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus (PLBC), Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., Chairman of the PLBC, issued the following statement on the ongoing protests in Philadelphia: “George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Antwon Rose. Eric Garner. Michael Brown, Jr. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. The list of black and brown mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and children who have needlessly lost their lives at the hands of police officers is not a new trend, but in America, it is a consistent trend with roots as old as our nation. Read more

Kinsey: We cannot allow separate justice for black Americans to continue

(May 28, 2020)

PHILADELPHIA, May 28 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., today issued a statement in response to the recent death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck. “It’s heartbreaking that even during a pandemic, when we should be coming together as a community to support and uplift one another, black Americans are facing violence. We should be ensuring the health, safety and welfare of everyone,” Kinsey said. “Black skin should not lead to an automatic death sentence. We cannot allow for separate justice for black and white Americans any longer. “The four officers were fired, but every elected official and legislator needs to be prudent with the power we yield. We must make sure that our justice system is not letting this behavior routinely slip through the cracks. We need to pass laws that protect our citizens equally. We have to do more.” Read more

PLBC says state should prioritize COVID-19 focus and funding on longstanding racial and economic divide in communities of color

(May 08, 2020)

PHILADELPHIA, May 7 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., and members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today encouraged Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration to not only recognize racial and ethnic groups in coronavirus data but also prioritize funding for black, brown and poor communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kinsey, who is chairman of the PLBC, said members of his caucus are increasingly discouraged by the disproportionate number of coronavirus cases and deaths affecting people of color. He said while there have been longstanding racial and economic disparities in health, education and economic development, the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the danger to communities of color worldwide. Pennsylvania, Kinsey said, has the power to do something about it. In a letter to Wolf, PLBC members highlighted the $3.9 billon the commonwealth is expected to receive from the federal government and urged him to ensure a prioritized portion of the money is invested to address racial disparities in business development, education, health care, housing and environmental remediation made worse by COVID-19. "Minority owned businesses are suffering to survive, let alone thrive; our schools are struggling to ensure that children have the proper equipment and resources for them to continue learning; and African Americans are dying at a disproportionately higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group due to complications of the Read more

Davis, Lee, Gainey and Wheatley pen letter of support for COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity

(Apr 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, April 28 – State Reps. Austin Davis, Ed Gainey, Summer Lee and Jake Wheatley, all D-Allegheny, on Tuesday penned a letter of support to Gov. Tom Wolf praising his administration’s enactment of the COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity , which was designed to help identify how the pandemic is affecting the state’s minority and vulnerable populations. A copy of the joint letter sent to the governor on Tuesday can be found here . “The COVID-19 pandemic – even in its earliest days – quickly shed light on many longstanding issues of inequality faced by minority communities,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, these are key issues these minority populations have dealt with for many years, COVID-19 just illuminated it for the rest of the state to see. So, while I’m hopeful and grateful for the institution of this task force, it’s my sincerest hope that this produces real results, saves lives and leads to longstanding change for Pennsylvania’s minority communities.” Lee added: “The coronavirus has brought to the surface all of the structural inequalities that marginalized communities in our state are dealing with – including those in our healthcare system. While I appreciate this effort, I would also hope that this task force is a starting point for us as a society to acknowledge and address the disparities in our healthcare Read more

Kinsey, PLBC applaud Wolf on calling for race and data with COVID-19 tests

(Apr 27, 2020)

PHILADELPHIA, April 27 – In a statement released today, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with its members, commended Gov. Tom Wolf for calling for more free and accessible testing, and for health care providers and medical facilities to follow the Department of Health’s mandate to include race and ethnicity data in demographics provided to the department with COVID-19 test results. “Race and ethnicity have long been factors that essentially predestine a person’s quality of life, and in the wake of a pandemic, these factors have determined the accessibility of tests, the level of care, and overall survival outcomes. It’s a reality that’s all too familiar for people of color,” Kinsey said. “I commend Governor Wolf for his efforts in addressing these deep-rooted systemic ills by pushing Pennsylvania to be among the few states to collect this critical piece of data, which will help our commonwealth to be able to better identify contraction points and mitigate spread in these communities, ultimately saving lives.” The chairman added, “The data collected surrounding this widespread event will be incredibly valuable for our ongoing efforts in the dismantling these disparities moving forward.” Read more