11th District Congresswoman Marcia Fudge is throwing her support behind a proposal that the FBI investigate police shootings across the country. The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus says she has been dealing with the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri every day since it occurred. Mark Urycki reports she likes a suggestion made by the mayor of Akron.
Five days before the shooting in Ferguson, Akron’s Mayor Don Plusquellic and Chief of Police James Nice sent a letter to the FBI. They were requesting a pilot program in Akron where federal agents would investigate certain police incidents such as police shootings. On Wednesday they forwarded that letter to the head of the National Urban League and the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and asked that laws be changed so it would apply to the whole country. Plusquellic wrote:
"Over my 28 years as Mayor, I have personally made calls asking the FBI to take over cases where there were police/civilian shootings so that our citizens can see that local control has been relinquished to the federal government to dispel the outcry of unfair or biased treatment. Such an independent review would also protect police officers who are fulfilling their lawful duties from false accusations. In each case, the FBI did not step in for various reasons including lack of jurisdiction or authority."
Now Congresswoman Fudge has thrown her support behind the idea. Fudge says, as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, she has been dealing with the issue every day since the Ferguson shooting, talking to fellow House members as well as officials at the White House and the Department of Justice. She said she backs Mayor Plusquellic’s request "100%."
"I believe when there’s a shooting that is this racially charged it should automatically go to some independent agency to do the investigation because otherwise if it’s the police department policing themselves people are not going to be trustworthy and if it’s some local group they’re not going to be trustworthy. So I think it protects both the police and the community."
She told the Akron Roundtable Thursday that the relationship between police and black men in America has not changed in 50 years.
"It is a powder keg but race is also a sore that has never healed in this country. And the longer we ignore it and not talk about it the worse it will become. It will fester; it will be infected. We have to deal with race in this country and we just won’t do it."
Fudge called on the President, city mayors, and police departments to hold a national dialog on race.