LGBTQ+ celebrities including Billy Porter, Megan Rapinoe, and Sarah Paulson are among hundreds of entertainment and sports figures who have signed on to an open letter supporting two police reform bills in California.
The letter calls on lawmakers to pass and Governor Gavin Newsom to sign Senate Bill 776 and Senate Bill 731, both of which are designed to increase accountability of police and rid forces of officers who have committed civil rights violations and acts of brutality.
SB 776, the letter says, "will establish the transparency and reporting needed to ensure that officers who engage in wrongful activity are removed -- and kept -- from these valued law enforcement positions." SB 731 "will implement an effective system to revoke an officer's certification based on criminal conviction and certain acts of serious misconduct."
The letter offers examples of the types of acts the bills seek to prevent and/or punish, such as the killing of a 19-year-old guitarist who was riding in a friend's truck when police fired "indiscriminately" into the truck from an unmarked car.
"While the killing of George Floyd inspired sustained outrage, protests, and reporting, the people of California have long understood the need to properly address the actions and accountability of police," the letter notes. "For too long, courts have undermined the intent of the State's laws, allowing bad police officers to violate the rights of those they are meant to protect. In addition, a lack of transparency and a deficient recordation system has shielded officers who abuse their authority and tarnish the integrity of California's law enforcement. We can fix this."
The letter is addressed to Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and Assembly Members Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Ken Cooley. The Assembly may vote on both bills as early as next week, Variety reports.
The letter originated with the American Association of Independent Music. In addition to Porter, Rapinoe, and Paulson, signatories include Billie Eilish, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Megan Thee Stallion, Death Cab for Cutie, the Jonas Brothers, Robert De Niro, Debra Messing, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Leon Bridges, Leslie Odom Jr., Meghan Trainor, Cynthia Erivo, Mary J. Blige, and Zooey Deschanel. Numerous companies and organizations have signed on as well, including Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, the Screen Actors Guild, and Actors Equity.
The association put together a similar letter to lobby for police reform in New York State, and it was signed by many of the same celebrities, including Porter, and some different ones, such as Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, and Lizzo. It advocated for the repeal of 50-A, a law that prevented the full public disclosure of police misconduct records. Legislators did pass a bill repealing the law, and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it in June.