From Brother Antonio F. Knox, Sr., 40th Grand Basileus:

I am writing to urge you to support S.1897, the Safer Officers and Safer Citizens Act of 2015. I know this bill has the potential to save not only my life, but also those of my family, friends, and neighbors. Senators, my entire community can benefit from this bill, which is why I cannot overstate its importance.

The bill, as drafted by the National Bar Association and supported by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., will help to prevent some of the unnecessary confrontations that occur when unarmed citizens- both Black and white- are being detained and arrested by law enforcement officers. While some have labeled these unfortunate encounters “Blue on Black Crimes”, and point to UVA student Martese Johnson as an example, facts demonstrate that around the country many whites and Hispanics have also encounter such incidents. The death of John Geer in Fairfax is one that is noted. These senseless deaths and encounters must stop. [THESE EXAMPLES ARE FROM VIRGINIA DISCUSS LOCAL EXAMPLES]

Between 2003 and 2009, 4,813 people died while in police custody or in the process of being arrested. [1] Proportionally, African-Americans and other minorities take a heavy toll in many of these incidents. However, it should be noted that whites too experience ill consequences while being arrested and are at risk of losing their lives. In a study done in California in 2012, body cameras resulted in a 60% reduction in use of force, and an 88% decline in the number of complaints against officers.

In closing, I urge you to support this legislation and to bring the powers of your office to bear. With your help, we can end this senseless violence and death at the hand of law enforcement. Our society and our judicial community is better than this and we must work together to end this vicious cycle of violence. Our communities are begging for your assistance.

Sign the petition!

[1] Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics