Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Rush Introduces Two Legislative Initiatives: The Laquan McDonald Camera Act and the Family Reconstruction Act

Dec 8, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) introduced two legislative initiatives that address social and economic injustices in policing and public policy. Rush introduced the Laquan McDonald Camera Act which will require state and local law enforcement agencies to have in effect, and enforce, a policy regarding the use of body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras in order to receive federal funds. Rush also introduced the Family Reconstruction Act that seeks to establish a commission to study family reconstruction proposals for African-Americans unjustly impacted by the ‘‘War on Drugs’’.

The Laquan McDonald Camera Act comes as result of the countless incidents of police violence that are lacking camera footage, even when body cameras and/or dashboard cameras were available on-scene. Rush named the bill to honor 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. When McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014, was shot, dashboard cameras were on scene and functioning but the audio functionality had allegedly been disabled. In the past five years, dozens of cases of police shootings from across the country depicted murders of individuals for routine traffic stops or minor infractions.

The Family Reconstruction Act will create a commission to acknowledge the fundamental injustice and the subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans impacted by the ‘‘War on Drugs’’. Rush believes the War on Drugs has played a disparate and discriminatory role in the mass incarceration that has focused too harshly on African-American families. The responsibilities of the commission are to determine the role that the government and private corporations played in the prison industrial complex, make recommendations to Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.

The “War on Drugs” launched by former President Richard J. Nixon began nearly 40 years ago and disproportionately impacted African-American families. Despite roughly equal rates of drug use and sales, African-American men are arrested at 13 times the rate of white men on drug charges in the U.S. with rates of up to 57 times in some states. African-Americans and Latinos together make up 29 percent of the total U.S. population, but make up more than 75 percent of drug law violators in state and federal prisons.

Rush’s bills highlight the social and economic disparities in the distribution of law and law enforcement where African-American communities are over-policed, underserved, and under-protected while being overly incarcerated. Rush’s legislation seeks to address failed policy enforced by governmental bodies that marginalize minority communities.