On September 23, 1955 closing arguments were presented in the Bryant-Milam trial; after an hour of deliberations, the jury returned with a “Not Guilty” verdict acquitting two brothers for the lynching of Emmett Till. On the same day, 65 years later, another Black life was betrayed by the judicial system. Breonna Taylor – killed while sleeping in her own home – became another victim of needless violence. We share in the hurt and frustration of thousands across this nation who fundamentally understand that Black lives – and Black women – matter.
The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus decries the decision delivered by a Kentuckian grand jury to not criminally charge Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove for firing 30-rounds of bullets into Ms. Taylor’s home. The charges on which Hankison was indicted prioritize concern for hypothetical harm over the actual death of Breonna Taylor. Let us be clear wanton endangerment is not a murder charge; we will continue to say her name and push for accountability when mechanisms of justice fail Black and brown lives.
As a legislative Caucus committed to uplifting and advocating for the marginalized and the silenced we will continue to fight for reforms that protect members of our community. We mourn the loss of Breonna Taylor and call for justice that has yet to be delivered.
The Massachusetts Black and Latino Caucus condemns the recent acts of violence against Major Aubery Gregory and Officer Robinson Desroches in Louisville, Kentucky. We unequivocally condemn all forms of violence and acts which splinter our community and hinder the progress that must be built together.
In a time of unprecedented unrest and uncertainty it is vital that we find modes of connection that inspire healing and dialogue. We must form bridges with one another and violence against any member of our community threatens the stability and longevity of those pathways.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Major Gregory, Officer Desroches, and their families during this time as we hope for their swift recovery.
The Massachusetts Black and Latino Caucus joins the entire Commonwealth in expressing our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Chief Justice Gants – a profound steward of justice and equity.
We grieve the loss of Justice Gants who proved a partner and friend to the MBLLC for many years, always extending opportunities for dialogue; and consistently finding vehicles to identify and address racial inequities present in our judicial and criminal justice systems.
Justice Gants embodied the empathy and leadership that the work of systemic change calls for and as we mourn this deep loss we are reminded that allies and partners in the work of racial parity can always be found among us.
In the spirit and memory of Justice Gants, we continue in the fight of making our judicial system one that acknowledges and confronts racial bias and prejudice at every level.
On Thursday, July 16, 2020 the MBLLC met with Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Rep. Christine Barber: lead sponsors for legislation that would enable all qualified state residents to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver’s license, regardless of immigrant status as is detailed by the ACLUM here. Both parties used the opportunity to discuss strategy on the best way to move the policy forward during this legislative session.
On Thursday, July 16, 2020 the MBLLC welcomed representatives from the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Policy Group and other police union representatives to discuss the implications of qualified immunity reform. As the Caucus and others seek to reform police standards and accountability in MA, it is important that the implications of proposed reforms are fully understood.
On Wednesday, July 8, 2020 the MBLLC met with Chairman Michael Rodrigues of the Senate Ways and Means Committee to discuss the Caucus' FY2021 budget priorities. Above all else, the Caucus noted that communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the Coronavirus and must be a priority for the upcoming budget. The MBLLC pointed towards education, minority businesses, and youth as key areas to focus on.
The Caucus looks forward to working with both Ways & Means Chairs to ensure our that our communities receive the funding and resources they deserve.
On Tuesday, July 7, 2020 the MBLLC met with Massachusetts State Representative Chris Markey. As a former Assistant District Attorney, Rep. Markey spoke about how his previous work impacts his calls for reforms.
The meeting served as an opportunity to discuss HD5133: legislation filed by Rep. Markey to allow more political pressure on the DA or the AG to request an inquest in the most serious cases of alleged police misconduct. An inquest is a quasi-public hearing, followed by a public report highlighting findings and rulings, that provides a means for families of victims of officer involved deaths to hear the circumstances of a person’s death or serious injury.
On Tuesday, June 30, 2020, the MBLLC met with Chairman Harold P. Naughton, Jr. of the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. With Governor Baker's legislation, An Act to improve police officer standards and accountability and to improve training, in Chairman Naughton's Committee, the meeting served as an opportunity for the MBLLC to express the Caucus' desire to build on the legislation through additional accountability reforms. The MBLLC will continue to work with Chairman Naughton and leadership as police accountability legislation works its way through the legislative process.
On Wednesday, June 24, 2020 the MBLLC met with the House Asian Caucus via Zoom to discuss systemic racism, racial injustice, and police accountability reforms. Both Caucuses pledged to work together, more frequently and systematically, going forward.
On Tuesday, June 23, 2020 the MBLLC and Chairman Aaron Michlewitz of the House Ways and Means Committee met to discuss the fiscal year 2021 State budget. While recognizing that budget writers face historic revenue loses, the MBLLC called on Chairman Michlewitz to ensure that communities of color that are hardest hit by COVID-19 have the resources needed to recover. In particular, the MBLLC prioritized education, youth jobs/development and gun violence prevention, and minority businesses.
MBLLC log posts are curated by the Caucus Executive Director.