The fight for police accountability continues with a new campaign to dismantle qualified immunity. Campaign Zero, a non-profit organization fighting to reform harmful judicial policies, recently launched a new campaign.
The organization’s End Qualified immunity campaign is dedicated to eliminating protections that shield police officers from civil liability when they’ve violated a citizen’s constitutional right. Accordingly, Campaign Zero believes that a meaningful first step for protecting everyone equally and increasing accountability is ending qualified immunity.
What is qualified immunity?
Qualified immunity is a legal principle that protects police and other government officials from civil liability when they violate an individual’s constitutional rights. Due to the legal barrier, police officers are rarely held accountable for the harm inflicted on people in the line of duty. While some people have received compensation from cities for damage caused by police officers, the officers themselves are rarely, if ever, held responsible for the offending behavior. On its website, Campaign Zero notes that “victims of police misconduct and their families often spend years in court seeking justice only for officers to be shielded by qualified immunity. Many cases don’t make it to trial at all.”
Campaign Zero’s plan of action
The new campaign pushes local and state officials to adopt policies emphasizing public accountability and providing recourse for private citizens when harm is caused. To end qualified immunity for good, Campaign Zero has released an evaluative rubric for proposed legislation that lists 4 practices that must END and 5 practices that must START to assure that victims receive financial compensation for constitutional rights violations.
In a statement, Campaign Zero’s executive director DeRay McKesson said that adopting proactive policies will end the practice of protecting people who cause harm.
“Qualified immunity protections as they stand send the message to the country that police officers face no consequences or penalty for violating citizens’ rights,” McKesson said. “Ending qualified immunity will remove the burden of proof from victims and finally provide them with access to answers, compensation, and justice.”
Key legislative highlights are included as a starting point for understanding where the various states are on police accountability. The website contains sample language and proposals to share with local and state officials.
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