‘What are you marching for?’: Activist reacts to Senator voting no on police transparency bill
MARYLAND – A bill that surrounds police transparency passed in the Senate and is now on it’s way to the House. But one activist is calling out a Maryland lawmaker for voting no on the bill.
“You come to our Black Lives Matter protests and March with us, so my question to Senator Eckert is, what are you marching for?” Richard Potter, the founder of The Coalition of Justice for Anton Black, said.
Anton Black is a 19-year-old man who died in police custody in 2018. Potter was behind Anton’s Law, a law focusing on police transparency, that passed in the Maryland Senate on Wednesday. But Potter says while that’s good news, he’s particularly disappointed in one Senator who voted no: Senator Addie Eckardt.
“With this bill, 178, it would open up all records to the scrutiny of the public,” Senator Eckardt said.
Senator Eckardt says she voted no because she’s concerned that with all administrative records pertaining to investigations into an officer being available, the public would be in on all kinds of information, even if an accusation turns out to be false.
“And I’m not sure the the court of public opinion is where there is due process and fairness while respecting everybody,” she said.
But Potter says her reasons for voting no aren’t enough. He says, as a Senator who attends many events surrounding the black community, he expected more from her.
“What is the message that you’re sending to the black community? That you can only support us in a surface level position, but when we’re looking for substantiated change you can’t support us?,” Potter asked.
Senator Eckardt says the idea that she’s not behind the Black community because of this vote simply isn’t right.
“That’s not true, I am supportive,” she said.
But Potter says it all comes down to transparency and making sure those who carry a badge are protecting the entire community, including Black and Brown communities.
“If we’re going to eradicate the issues and try to build a better community to include police officers in it, transparency has to be the heart of it, transparency is no more than the truth,” he said.
Senator Eckardt says she was also concerned with the idea that the law would make young people not want to pursue law enforcement as a career. Potter says, again, that’s a hypothetical situation.
The bill will next be heard in the House and if it passes there it will head to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk.