February 08, 2023

Rep. Watson Coleman, Congressional Black Caucus Call for Police Reform During State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 8, 2023) —  On the day of President Biden’s State of the Union Address, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) led her colleagues in standing against police brutality. The Congresswoman and dozens of her Congressional Black Caucus colleagues wore buttons reading “1870,” the year of the earliest documented police killing of an unarmed Black American. 


That year, a Philadelphia police officer shot and killed Henry Truman, an unarmed Black man. The killing of Truman resembles other police killings of Black Americans, including the recent killing of Tyre Nichols. 


“153 years after the murder of Henry Truman, the Black community is still waiting for justice. Tragedies like the murder of Tyre Nichols last month have become a far-too-common occurrence in this country. From Bobby Hall to Breonna Taylor, this repetition of history has torn countless Black families apart,” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman.  


“I mourn each and every life stolen from us by police, but mourning alone will bring us no closer to justice. Rather than becoming increasingly rare, murders by police have instead grown frighteningly common. If the time to act was not immediately after the murder of Henry Truman, the time is now. The need for sweeping criminal justice reform could not be more urgent,” the Congresswoman continued.  


“Today I stand united with my Black Caucus colleagues as we call for an end to institutionalized, normalized police brutality. We demand accountability and reform from police departments that have built, maintained, and even encouraged a culture of violence and racism,” the Congresswoman concluded. 


Law enforcement officers killed at least 1176 Americans in 2022 (the highest number on record), a disproportionate number of whom were Black.