Dear Members and Supporters of NPAP,
Thank you for your tremendous support and tireless work on SB 731. This critical bill was the brainchild of California NPAP members. A year ago, we began working to amend the Bane Act, California’s civil rights statute, aiming to remove blanket immunity from officers who plant evidence and frame innocent people. NPAP Past-President Michael Haddad and other members took the lead in drafting SB 731’s language as it related to amending the Bane Act and eliminating immunity for officers who lie. The ACLU drafted the language of the decertification requirement, which sought to stop officers who commit egregious misconduct from continuing to work as police. NPAP’s incoming president Julia Yoo testified as the technical expert in front of the Assembly during the committee hearing.
On September 1, 2020, while the Assembly was refusing to hold a vote on this bill, Dijon Kizzee was shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies. The Assembly’s refusal to vote, precluding a clear record of where members stood on police accountability and reform, was an act of cowardice.
While SB 731 has died, we have much to celebrate as we continue forward in this fight. NPAP collaborated with artists and entertainers like Aloe Blacc, who advocated ferociously and relentlessly for SB 731 to support victims of police violence. Aloe made phone calls to Assembly members late into the night, urging them to vote yes. As part of his campaign to generate public support for SB 731 and educate his fans about the Bane Act, Aloe featured Julia during an Instagram Live session.
NPAP garnered the support of celebrities like Mariah Carey and Robert De Niro who signed a letter in support of SB 731. And with the help of supporters across California, #SB731 was trending on Monday as we worked to pressure assembly members to bring the bill to the floor. Nearly every CA Assembly member’s voicemail box was full due to our California NPAP donors and members calling and demanding a yes vote. California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon had to change his outgoing message as a result of the volume of calls from supporters like you.
Our work is not done. Your voice has reaffirmed the critical nature of this work and emboldened us to widen our efforts.
As a final action for SB 731, we ask that you remind these Assembly members that we hold them accountable for their refusal to hold a vote. Please see below for contact information of each of the Assembly members who should be contacted immediately. Thank you all for making a difference.
CA Senate Bill (SB) 731.
What was SB 731?
The National Police Accountability Project was proud to support our members' work in spearheading California Senate Bill 731, authored by California Senator Bradford (D-Los Angeles). Qualified immunity at the federal level has prevented victims of police violence and misconduct from achieving accountability and justice. Federal lawmakers have not been able to limit the reach of qualified immunity, but state legislators in California can act to eliminate immunity for police officers.
California’s civil rights statute, the Bane Act, is similar to the federal civil rights statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Fortunately, the Bane Act does not permit a defendant to raise the defense of qualified immunity. Unfortunately, the Bane Act still provides immunity to law enforcement officers for certain acts. Right now, in California, police officers who plant or fabricate evidence, or lie to have criminal charges filed against innocent people, are immune from liability under the Bane Act. Jails are immune from liability even when jail guards maliciously beat and injure people, or withhold needed medical treatment without reason.
Senate Bill (SB) 731 would have changed this: it sought to abolish immunity for police officers and transform the Bane Act into a powerful tool for enforcing police accountability. Victims of police misconduct in California would have found relief under Senate Bill 731 even when qualified immunity under federal law denied them justice.
SB 731 went beyond this-- it aimed to implement a statewide system for revoking the license of police officers who commit serious misconduct, preventing bad cops who leave one law enforcement agency from being employed by any other police agency. This statewide decertification process would have meant that cops who had been fired, or resigned while under investigation for misconduct, could no longer bounce around from community to community. It also would have meant officers who were fired for excessive force, sexual misconduct, and dishonesty would no longer continue to terrorize community members by finding a job somewhere else.
While National Police Accountability Project is not a sponsor of SB 731, we recognize the critical nature of this legislation and the work that many of our members contributed to the drafting process, as well as the incredible commitment and dedication shown by the below organizations, who are all sponsors of the bill: