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Valley clergy support proposed bill to restrict law officers’ deadly use of force

Sequitta Thompson, second from left, the grandmother of police shooting victim Stephon Clark, calls for justice for her grandson during a news conference at the Capitol on Monday, March 18, 2019, in Sacramento. Monday marked a year since two Sacramento police officers killed Clark, 22, in Thompson’s backyard as they responded to vandalism reports. Thompson was joined by Clark’s brother, Stevante, left, The Rev. Al Sharpton, third from left, and Clark’s mother, SeQuette Clark, right,
Sequitta Thompson, second from left, the grandmother of police shooting victim Stephon Clark, calls for justice for her grandson during a news conference at the Capitol on Monday, March 18, 2019, in Sacramento. Monday marked a year since two Sacramento police officers killed Clark, 22, in Thompson’s backyard as they responded to vandalism reports. Thompson was joined by Clark’s brother, Stevante, left, The Rev. Al Sharpton, third from left, and Clark’s mother, SeQuette Clark, right, AP file

To our Central Valley state representatives: We write to you today as clergy and faith leaders representing a diverse range of traditions and counties across the Central Valley.

Like you, we are working — together and in our individual communities — every day for a Central Valley that values the life, rights and dignity of every single one of us. It is with this value in mind that we write you to encourage your support for AB 392, which would update an antiquated law from 1872 to change the legal standard for police use of deadly force.

As a result, we know that AB 392 would save lives and help promote greater trust between law enforcement and the communities served.

AB 392 is critically needed here in our Central Valley: According to a legislative bill analysis, “of the 15 police departments with the highest per capita rates of police killings in the nation” (in 2017), two of them are in the Central Valley; Stockton and Bakersfield.

“Police in Kern County have killed more people per capita than in any other U.S. county.”

While we are encouraged by recent local leadership and reforms in cities including Stockton, we also know that these types of reforms are needed in every city across the Central Valley and state. AB 392 is a sensible and long-overdue step towards ensuring that all of us — officers and civilians — can make it home safely, and also be held accountable for our actions and responsibility to protect and respect one another.

Unfortunately, we have also learned that some of you have signed on in support of a separate “Use of force” bill, SB 230, which unfortunately would not require nor provide any actual change to current police policies and standards in California. For those of you currently supporting this bill, we urge you today to withdraw your support of this bill. And we urge all of you to publicly support and champion AB 392, to save lives and help us take another step towards building the beloved community in the Central Valley that we all desire.

Thank you for your service and consideration.

Bishop Rufus K Turner & Pastor Trena Turner, Victory In Praise Church, Stockton; Fr. Guadalupe Rios, St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Selma; Fr. Misael Avila, St. Frances of Rome Riverbank; Rev. Nancy Bacon, Tehachapi Community Church; Sukaina Hussain, Central California Outreach Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations; Rev. DJ Criner, St. Rest Baptist Church, Fresno; The Rt Rev David C Rice, Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin; Pastor Latricia Beasley - Day, Victory in Praise Modesto; The Rev. Cn. Anna Carmichael, Canon to the Ordinary, The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin; Sister Marie Francis Schroepfer, CSJ- Catholic Diocese of Fresno, Office of Social Justice., Bakersfield; Rabbi Jason Gwasdoff, Temple Israel, Stockton; Rev. Ella Luna-Garza, United Methodist Church of Merced; Rev. Tywa Reece, Unity Church of Merced; Jim Grant, director, Social Justice Ministry, Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno; Rev. Bob Klein 1st Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton; Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, Fresno; Pastor Curtis Smith & Pastor Kristen Smith, Lead Pastors, Destiny Christian Center, Stockton; The Rev. Deacon Nancy Key, St. James Episcopal Cathedral, Fresno; Mike Sutherland, Pastor, Mill Creek Christian Church Bakersfield; Rev. Phil Skei, Co-Pastor, On Ramps Covenant Church, Fresno; Deep Singh, Executive Director, Jakara Movement; Pastor Joby Jones, Grace & Truth MBC, Fresno; Hajj Reza Nekumanesh, Executive Director, Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno; Rev. Wangki Xiong, Trinity of Merced; Church Rev. Tim Kutzmark, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno; Pastor Mata, Monte de Sion, Lamont; Rev. Booker T. Lewis II, Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church, Fresno; Rev. Lynette Morlan, Rector, Episcopal Church of St. Anne, Stockton; Reverend Anne Schlesinger, Wesley United Methodist Church, Bakersfield; Rev. Darcy Baxter, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County; Pastor Jackie C. Hilliard, Jr. ,Lead Pastor, Upper Room N.T. Ministries, Stockton; Rev. Steve Ratzlaff, Retired pastor: Mennonite Community Church, Fresno; Dawn Wilder, Pastor Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Bakersfield; Rev. Phil Jenkins, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Atwater; Rev. James Taylor, Friendship Baptist church; The Very Rev. Ryan Newman, Dean, St. James Episcopal Cathedral, Fresno; Rev. Simon Biasell-Moshrefi - Presbytery of San Joaquin, Fresno; Rev. David Campbell, Pastor Emeritus, First Congregational Church, Bakersfield; The Rev. Deacon Terrance Goodpasture, St. James Episcopal Cathedral, Fresno; Chuck Shawver, Retired Pastor, Glenville; Rev. Alan L. McLearn-Montz, MTS/MDiv, Bakersfield; Rabbi Rosenstein, Bakersfield; Michelle Morgan, Associate Pastor, New Destiny Worship Center, Stockton; Pastor Peter Jalilie, Senior Pastor, Calvary First Assembly of God; The Rev. Deacon Marilee Elliott Muncey, Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, Merced; Rev. Maria Cinsenero

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