NASW joins letter to Obama urging police reforms in aftermath of Ferguson shooting

Sep 4, 2014

The National Association of Social Workers has joined more than 1,300 other organizations and individuals in signing a letter urging the Obama Administration to make reforms to end police violence in light of the shooting of an unarmed African American teenager in Ferguson, Mo.

The letter was published in the Washington Post. Others who have signed the letter include social worker Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Social Work Caucus; Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Ben Cohen, co-founder of the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream chain; and actress Cynthia Nixon.

“In cities across America, local law enforcement units too often treat low-income neighborhoods populated by African Americans and Latinos as if they are military combat zones instead of communities where people strive to live, learn, work, play and pray in peace and harmony,” the letter read.

The letter among other things calls on the administration to push for police training to end racial bias, demilitarization of  police forces, and an agency within the Department of Justice to set national standards for investigating alleged police misdoings.

In the past five years, the country has seen several tragic incidents where deadly police force has been brought against people of color. These include the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri, an incident that has sparked days of protests in that St. Louis suburb and around the nation.

NASW has already called for police reforms after the Ferguson shooting. One suggestion is that police carry video cameras, which could prompt them to be more cautious and provide evidence if there is police misconduct.

Related Resources:

Social Work Policy Institute, Achieving Racial Equity: Calling the Social Work Profession to Action

NASW Diversity and Equity Website

NASW Code of Ethics

Mel Wilson

Mel Wilson

For more information on NASW’s criminal justice advocacy and related topics, please contact Mel Wilson, manager of the Department Social Justice and Human Rights, at

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