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Special Event

Congressional Black Caucus Holds News Briefing on Videotaped Beating of Suspect by Philadelphia Police

Aired July 13, 2000 - 2:22 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: We told you earlier in our top story about police in Philadelphia who are under fire because of the beating of a man in a high-speed chase.

We want to take you live now where the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are speaking about the Philadelphia beating by police.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: This is supposed to be the greatest country in the world where justice reigns for all of its citizens. These accidental deaths in some cases, called suicide in others, excessive force, like we saw yesterday in Philadelphia, cannot be tolerated.

We urge the Congress to pass the legislation that's pending to allow hearings on it so we can have the debate that American citizens want us to have.

But you, as press, have a responsibility as well. You are here today, and we hope that you will let the world know what's happening. It is not just happening in Mississippi. It is not just happening in Michigan. It's happening all over America.

We have good police officers in this country. I believe it is just a few in each department who seem to be rearing their ugly head. The police's duty is to apprehend. The justice system is supposed to take the convicted or accused person through the criminal justice process.

So, as a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, I'm very proud of our co-chairs, both Congressman Danny Davis and Congressman Greg Meeks, for keeping the issue front and center. What happened yesterday is the tip of the iceberg, we're finding out. We are getting complaints because people know we are here and looking at it from all over the country.

We must address the legislation that is pending in the Congress. And I too want to commend Attorney General Janet Reno for her work and getting right on the events that happened yesterday. Thank you.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.

REP. JESSE JACKSON, JR. (D), ILLINOIS: I am here to congratulations Congressman Chaka Fattah for the outstanding leadership that he is showing on this issue. And to Congressman Greg Meeks and Danny Davis, who held hearing across the country on police brutality this year and last year.

Our system of justice is premised upon a basic and fair concept that every criminal defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Young black men all across America have consistently made the argument that our system of justice first sees them as guilty and then they have to work hard to prove themselves innocent. Precisely the opposite notion that most Americans believe our system of justice is premised upon.

I talked with Mary Mason this morning, who is a Philadelphia radio talk show host, who indicated to me that that public appearance that we saw on television this morning, of these acts of police brutality, the assault and battery that occurred by police officers this morning on television, was because many police officers on the scene of that particular crime believed that the helicopter that was flying above them was a police helicopter.

So, because it was a news helicopter, the code of silence amongst police officers and the video that all of us saw this morning still might not be available to us and to the American people to express our outrage.

And so we are here to congratulations Attorney General Janet Reno for her immediate action, but this is because, in part, because of the national outrage associated with the video. We do expect our Justice Department to move on all cases of police brutality, particularly those cases that are not brought to light by video. This is all too common an occurrence in our community.

And but for the little pins that we wear on Capitol Hill to show that we are members of Congress, I shall never forget the first day I came to Congress, and after having served here not only that day, but a number of months in Congress...

HALL: You are listening to Jesse Jackson, Jr., Democrat from Illinois, speaking about the police capture and beating of a man from Philadelphia. His point in this, because of course he is representing the Congressional Black Caucus, is that many young black men across America say they view the U.S. system of justice as one that sees them guilty first, rather than a presumption of innocence. While others argue, as you may know, that this is not necessarily a case of race, but one of perhaps police brutality.

We will keep you up to date on this story.

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