Rihanna, Billie Eilish and Megan Thee Stallion join music industry calls for police reform

The stars are part of a growing list who signed an open letter appealing for police accountability and more transparency in policing.

by Roisin Lanigan
|
21 August 2020, 12:25pm

(L) Photography Ethan James Green Styling Carlos Nazario The Get Up Stand Up Issue, no. 358, Winter 2019 (R) Photography Mario Sorrenti Styling Alastair McKimm, Rihannazine

Over the past few months, a series of horrific acts of brutality at the hands of law enforcement have opened up difficult conversations on defunding and reforming the police, in America and across the world. And although the news cycle constantly pushes ahead, many of the music industry’s biggest stars are using their platforms to keep pressuring these institutions to make a measurable, positive positive change. Most recently some of the industry’s biggest names joined forces in an open letter calling for reform, transparency and accountability within the police force in California.

Billie Eilish, Rihanna, Grimes and Megan Thee Stallion are just some of the prominent names on the open letter which calls on California Governor Gavin Newsom to enact two specific bills -- named in the document as SB 776 and SB 731 -- which would, if voted into action, provide greater transparency and accountability for California police officers.

“SB 776 will establish the transparency and reporting needed to ensure that officers who engage in wrongful activity are removed – and kept – from these valued law enforcement positions,” the letter reads. “SB 731 will implement an effective system to revoke an officer’s certification based on criminal conviction and certain acts of serious misconduct and will also reinstate the original objective of the Bane Act to properly protect the civil rights of all California citizens.”

While the open letter, also signed by Billy Porter, Mariah Carey and Sarah Paulson, to name a few, acknowledges the recent events which have been a catalyst for discussions around police reform -- the death of George Floyd in May and the subsequent global wave of Black Lives Matter protests -- it also points out that police reform in the state has been a long-standing and systemic issue. “For too long, courts have undermined the intent of the State’s laws, allowing bad police officers to violate the rights of those they are meant to protect,” it reads.

“In addition, a lack of transparency and a deficient recordation system has shielded officers who abuse their authority and tarnish the integrity of California’s law enforcement. We can fix this.”

Read the full text below:

Dear Governor Newsom, Speaker Rendon, Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer, and Assembly Member Cooley,

Occasionally, we are presented with an opportunity to make a genuine difference in the lives of millions. It may have taken the glare of a national spotlight to bring us to the threshold of change regarding abuse and injustice within law enforcement, but the moment is here. On behalf of all of us in the music and entertainment communities, we are asking you to seize that moment by passing Senate Bill 731 and Senate Bill 776.

While the killing of George Floyd inspired sustained outrage, protests, and reporting, the people of California have long understood the need to properly address the actions and accountability of police. For too long, courts have undermined the intent of the State’s laws, allowing bad police officers to violate the rights of those they are meant to protect. In addition, a lack of transparency and a deficient recordation system has shielded officers who abuse their authority and tarnish the integrity of California’s law enforcement. We can fix this.

SB 776 will establish the transparency and reporting needed to ensure that officers who engage in wrongful activity are removed – and kept – from these valued law enforcement positions. SB 731 will implement an effective system to revoke an officer’s certification based on criminal conviction and certain acts of serious misconduct and will also reinstate the original objective of the Bane Act to properly protect the civil rights of all California citizens.

Fixing the Bane Act will give closure and relief to families like that of 19-year-old Pedro Villanueva, an avid guitar player who was killed by police who fired indiscriminately from an unmarked car into his friend’s truck, in which he was a passenger. Families like that of Steven Schiltz, killed by police for holding a stick near a softball field after arriving to play a game. Families of Frankie Greer (military veteran and successful professional drummer), Luke Smith, Mauricio Barron, and to so many others who have faced – and will face – violations of their civil rights without any recourse.

These bills are meaningful responses to a critical problem and glaring inequity in our law, reflecting the Legislative Black Caucus’s efforts at reform. California is renowned for seizing those opportunities that make a genuine difference and must not abandon its stature here. We implore you to vote “Yes” on SB 731 and SB 776.

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