Da’Quan Love, Executive Director

Virginia NAACP Expresses Outrage in Failed Qualified Immunity Reform Efforts

Richmond, Virginia – The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP (Virginia NAACP) set forth its legislative priorities for 2021. This week, the Virginia NAACP saw both success and failure in the General Assembly. The House of Delegates passing the resolution to Declare Racism as a Public Health Crisis recognizes the inequities and systemic racism that permeates our everyday lives. The Constitutional Amendment further defines the qualifications of voters and will protect voters by ensuring that restrictive, unethical and racially biased laws cannot be enacted or enforced. Strengthening voter protections is a win for all Virginians. Providing localities the opportunity to extend voting to Sundays, allows them to determine how best to ensure all eligible voters in their communities have the opportunity to vote. These actions ensure that Virginia will be a better Virginia for Black people, people of color, the underserved and all of the Commonwealth.

We fully support the passing of Automatic Expungement of Criminal Offenses with no barriers and no petitions. Virginians must be offered the opportunity for a real second chance. Providing the path forward is a great step to real criminal justice reform. It is also time that mandatory minimum sentences are eliminated. Judges should be afforded the right to use discernment and other factors in sentencing individuals.

The Virginia NAACP is outraged that bills to end qualified immunity failed to pass in the House and the Senate. Protecting police officers at the detriment of the citizens of Virginia only serves to further diminish the trust needed between law enforcement and our communities.

President Robert N. Barnette, Jr states, “It is disappointing to say at least that the bills to end Qualified Immunity failed. Too often, law enforcement is allowed to break standards of decency. This only makes it harder for Black people, people of color and quite frankly all Virginians to turn to the police when needed.” 

The bi-partisan failure of House Bill 2045 Qualified Immunity is indicative of our legislators not prioritizing our citizens. We must have policies which hold law enforcement officers accountable for their behavior towards all of the communities they are sworn to protect and serve. The Virginia NAACP will continue to advocate for the end to qualified immunity.

Abolishing the death penalty, is long overdue in the Commonwealth. Research has proven that not only does the death penalty not deter crime, but it is disproportionally applied to Black people and people of color. Today’s passing in the Senate is an immensely huge step forward in ending this inhumane practice.