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Rep. Senfronia Thompson Calls for Unity and an End to the Culture of Hate and Violence

Rep. Senfronia Thompson Calls for Unity and an 
End to the Culture of Hate and Violence
HOUSTON (July 12, 2016) — Today, Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) issued the following statement in response to the recent violence targeting African-Americans, law enforcement and the LGBT community, and crimes and bullying in general associated with race, gender, age, social class, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability:
“I vow to continue my work of finding a positive way forward that leads to a workable solution and builds a bridge between all parties. We must all have value for each of our brothers and sisters.
“As a widow and mother of two sons and a grandson, and having experienced the indescribable pain of losing my only daughter tragically, my heart breaks for the mothers and families of the recent tragedies.
“For the past three decades, I have been at the forefront of every major campaign against discrimination. My voting record in support of issues of concern to women, minorities, labor, consumers, domestic violence victims, the elderly, teachers and civil libertarians is among the highest of my colleagues. 
 
Rep. Senfronia Thompson joins Sen. John Whitmire, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (event organizer), Senator Sylvia Garcia, Constable Alan Rosen and many other leaders and the community for a Houston Walk For Peace held Sunday, July 10, 2016


“I have fought and fought in Austin authoring bills to help stop these crimes. I sponsored the racial profiling bill in 2001. Also in 2011, I sponsored the anti-bullying bill. Today, the crimes continue right before our eyes with the advent of new media.
“I authored the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which allows for tougher sentences for those convicted of crimes motivated by bias, which includes the LGBT community. Recent events and tensions underscore the fact that the James Byrd Act remains relevant as a necessary recourse to those who may fall victim to violence arising from being perceived as ‘different.’ In addition, I participated in an LGBT public awareness campaign called “It Gets Better” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W10YWjiQByo), yet it has not gotten better. Hate is real and is still being used as a weapon for evil.
“I also fought for laws allowing for a path of re-entry for ex-offenders, thereby helping to reduce recidivism, and increase access to social services and jobs. Texas prisons are three-fourths populated by African-American and Latino men. While these measures are good and go a long way to help give ex-offenders positive options, we need to go further to reduce the number of minority men being wrongly convicted or sentenced inequitably for misdemeanors.
“We must take positive action now as a community. The African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ also applies to finding an end to the cycle of hate. It will take the entire community. Everyone will need to be involved in this transformative change including: legislators at every level of government, the clergy, community leaders, academia, the media, law enforcement, nonprofit organizations (including those that facilitate military re-entry), and even parents and caretakers.
“The unification and open dialogue that is now occurring is very positive, in my view. Open, transparent discourse that is solution-based and seeks to understand through listening and asking clarifying questions to truly understand rather than passing through a biased filter, will help us activate long-lasting, sustainable solutions.  We all have ‘baggage’ that shapes who we are. The challenge is to not let our baggage govern how we interact with and to one another.” said Rep. Thompson.
During the 85th Legislative Session, Rep. Thompson will again file legislation to end the practice of arrest for non-jailable offenses. There have been several incidents where that discretion has been used to unnecessarily escalate a situation with a motorist that could have ended without violence.
 
In addition, Rep. Thompson will file legislation to reduce officer-involved shootings and deadly force by: 
  • requiring departments to develop new standards relating to their use of force policy, particularly, when interacting with persons who are mentally ill, under the influence, or are armed or unarmed with weapons other than firearms; 
  • strengthening the disciplinary process for police officers; 
  • making de-escalation a high priority in officer training; 
  • improving public access to information about critical incidents and use of force; and 
  • requiring departments to re-evaluate its first responder approach to calls from people in mental health crisis, including training for 911 call takers and dispatchers.
“All of these measures, including public awareness education are important to the healing process.  As with any matter requiring transformative change, we must first admit and accept that there is a problem.  Texans are a resilient, caring people. We have come together in times of tragedy in the past, and I am confident we will do what it takes to lead the nation in making positive changes for the public good,” concluded Rep. Thompson.
About State Representative Senfronia Thompson, Candidate for Senate District 13
Attorney and former public school teacher, State Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) represents Texas House District 141. Dean of women legislators and the Harris County Delegation, Rep. Thompson is the longest-serving woman and longest-serving African-American in Texas history. A Houston attorney, Rep. Thompson is currently serving her 22nd term in the Texas House of Representatives. Rep. Thompson chairs the Texas House Local and Consent Calendars Committee.  She is a member of the House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee, the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee, the House Redistricting Committee, the House Select Committee on Mental Health and the Sunset Advisory Commission. An award-winning legislator and acknowledged civil rights leader, Rep. Thompson, affectionately known by her colleagues as “Ms. T,” was inducted into the prestigious Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. Throughout her illustrious career she has repeatedly proven her absolute commitment to those less fortunate and her tireless fight for equality and opportunity for all. Her commitment to social and economic justice has reverberated across our nation. She has become one of the best symbols of all that is possible. Rep. Thompson has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Education from Texas Southern University; a law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law and a Master’s of Law in International Law from the University of Houston.  www.senfroniathompson.com

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