Val Demings won Florida Congressional District 10 in 2016.
CBC/Black Lives matter
September 2015, D.C.'s Convention Center was the site for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 45th Annual Legislative Conference where the development of the #BlackLivesMatter movement was given intense attention from many different perspectives. More than 70 education, health, civic engagement and economic empowerment sessions under the theme, "With Liberty and Justice for All?" filled September 16-20 during the day as concerts, receptions and networking gatherings filled the evenings.
Thursday's first event was the National Town Hall: "Black Lives Matter-Ending Racial Profiling, Police Brutality and Mass Incarceration." Roland Martin, Managing Editor of TVOne NewsOne Now moderated a panel which included Congressional Representatives Elijah Cummings, Sheila Jackson Lee, Hakeem Jeffries, and G.K. Butterfield. Others on the panel included Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Network (#BLM); Alphonso Mayfield, president of the SEIU Florida Public Service Union; and Val Demings, former police chief of Orlando, Fla., the first woman to hold the position.
Roland Martin reminded the audience that while 24 criminal justice reform bills have been passed since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., no action has yet been taken by the prosecutor in Cleveland one year after Tamir Rice was gunned down. Ms. Garza underscored that the criminal justice system as currently instituted "is not broken; it is designed to work just as it does work." And Rep. Hakeem Jeffries from Brooklyn, N.Y. declared, "Black men are viewed as economic commodities. Democrats and Republicans built a prison industrial complex and then filled it through mass incarceration."
The People's World was represented at the conference by participants from DC, Daytona Beach, St. Louis and Baltimore.
We learned that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has met with #BLM about strengthening accountability mechanisms within police departments, but that the DOJ has put on record that their mandates at a local level are "too high."
Elijah Cummings praised Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore's elected prosecutor for her bravery in pursuing legal remedies in the Freddie Gray police murder trials. "We want to be sure that the wheels of justice turn and are not stopped," he said.
Moderator Roland Martin encouraged voting as the answer to racism in the criminal 'injustice' system, since so many District Attorneys are elected. "Having a Black DA matters, but that doesn't happen if Black folks don't vote." Martin said that as a result of a new DA in one district, there have been more innocent African Americans freed in one year than in the 20 previous years.
Alicia Garza said that it is a requirement for activists to fight for "the right of Black people to live in our full dignity and our full humanity," at every level, including in federal, state and local government. In terms of police departments, she said that Black and progressive police are fighting police injustice from within, attempting to change a culture of racism and 'police loyalty' and replace it with police integrity.
What was clear from the panel discussion was that the Congressional Black Caucus strongly supports the Black Lives Matter Network in the work it is doing. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee stated, "I'm proud that we the CBC have had the wisdom to follow Black Lives Matter. It engenders a diverse, generational movement. As we do the policy, I believe Black Lives Matter can be the catalyst-like the movement that brought about voting and civil rights legislation in the '60s."
During Q & A, the first question to the panel at the Town Hall was that Black on Black violence had not been addressed. Garza's answer was that people will reach for power, whether it be against their neighbor or against the real forces keeping them down. Other panelists answered that white on white crime is also greater than interracial violent crimes.
Collective bargaining, stated one member of the audience, can act as a bar to getting police accountability. Mayfield of the SEIU offered that contract negotiations are with City governments and thus can be influenced by citizens. He countered other panelists, declaring that police can be suspended without pay for misconduct under some contracts.
Other questions resulted in the panel talking about widening the struggle to include the right to a good education and creating the labor force to fill the 1.4 new technical jobs that will be needed in the next five years.
In 2016 Val Demings was supported by Council for a Livable World.
- Val, the daughter of a maid and a janitor, has an inspirational back story leading to her rise as Orlando’s first woman Police Chief.
- She graduated from Florida State University in 1979 majoring in criminology. Afterwards, she worked as a social worker in Jacksonville, before applying for a job with the Orlando Police Department, working her way up to Police Chief. Additionally, she found the time during her work to get an M.A in public administration from Webster University, which is headquartered in St. Louis. At the Department, Val served in numerous capacities including as a member of the Crisis Negotiation Team, Commander of Special Operations, and Commander of the Airport Division during 9/11.
- After retiring from the police department, Demings ran for Congress in 2012, narrowly losing to Dan Webster.
- Chief Demings supports negotiations for further reductions in nuclear weapons and additional funding for non-proliferation programs to keep nuclear weapons and materials out of the hands of terrorists. She would support reductions in the nuclear weapons budget, providing funding for other national security priorities. In addition, Val is a supporter of the Iran nuclear agreement, although she promises to carefully monitor implementation of the agreement.
In 2017 Val Demings was a new member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
In 2017 Val Demings was a new member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Launched in August of 2016, the Collective PAC has helped 18 candidates win primary and/or general elections at the local, state and federal level thus far, including U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, U.S. Representatives Val Demings, Lisa Blunt Rochester and Donald McEachin, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, Vi Lyles of Charlotte, Yvette Simpson of Cincinnati and Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor in Virginia.
- [ http://peoplesworld.org/cbcf-national-town-hall-focuses-on-black-lives-matter-movement/PW CBCF National Town Hall focuses on Black Lives Matter movement, by: CINDY FARQUHAR september 21 2015