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Listen to the mothers: courage in the face of tragedy

Last night, we nominated a woman to lead our presidential ticket for the first time in American history. It was a moment I’ll never forget. But I think the moment I’ll remember best was when the Mothers of the Movement took the stage – seven women who lost their children to gun violence, during an encounter with police, or while in police custody.

I can’t begin to imagine the grief and anger and sense of injustice I would feel if what happened to their sons and daughters happened to one of my family members.  That’s why we need to give a voice to victims. That’s why each and every one of us needs to hear, unequivocally, that black lives matter. That’s why we need to say, unequivocally, to ourselves and to each other, that black lives matter.

For many black Americans, the kind of stories we heard last night are all too familiar.  For many white Americans, they’re inconceivable. That’s exactly why it’s so important to elevate these powerful voices in this election and in all our public debates, and hear their message of unity, and resolve, and hope in the face of tragedy.

As a prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand how many police officers work hard to serve with distinction and protect the people they serve – and, as we’ve tragically seen in recent weeks, risk their own lives to do so. I also know that when an individual comes into contact with the criminal justice system, even during a traffic stop, law enforcement officials have tremendous power over that person’s life – and that power comes with tremendous responsibility. 

We cannot wait any longer to take on the problems in our criminal justice system – from systemic racism in policing and excessive use of force, to inadequate, outdated training and a frequent failure to hold police officers accountable for misconduct. I’ve been taking on these problems throughout my career, and I’m more motivated than ever to keep fighting for comprehensive criminal justice reform in Congress.

Let's follow the lead of these courageous women, come together with resolve, and find real solutions to reform our criminal justice system.

Posted on July 27, 2016.
Photo by Joe Mabel
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Meet Kathleen

Kathleen Rice represents New York's Fourth Congressional District on Long Island. A career prosecutor, Kathleen is a progressive Democrat known for her independent style and ability to work with people from both parties to take on big problems.

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