Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) lamented Monday that recent deaths of unarmed African-American men at the hands of police officers make it feel like “open season” on members of his race.
Johnson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, spoke on the House floor for the first time since the controversial shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C., earlier this month. The police officer involved, Michael Slager, has been charged with murder.
“It feels like open season on black men in America, and I’m outraged,” Johnson said.
The Georgia Democrat cited the recent deaths of Scott, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Anthony Hill and others across the country. He argued that police brutality toward a particular race poses a threat to all citizens.
“In fact, all Americans are at risk when bad actors in law enforcement use their guns instead of their heads,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who has introduced legislation to reform law enforcement, blasted Congress for not passing any bills despite widespread outrage among lawmakers over the high-profile deaths.
“Despite bipartisan nationwide calls for action; and despite my bills to reform the broken grand jury process, hold police accountable and end militarization; and despite my colleagues’ bills to encourage body cameras, this Congress does nothing. No hearings, no blue-ribbon commissions, no nothing,” Johnson said.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee did hold a hearing last year on the federal government’s policy of providing local police departments with military equipment in the aftermath of the Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo. In addition, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing in December on civil rights and police-community relations.