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Qualified Immunity – What Is It and Why You Should Care

(Transcript: “It’s official Black History Month, so it’s time to talk about the racist history of Qualified Immunity. In the period following the Civil War, known as Reconstruction, slavery had ended but the racial violence persisted. The Ku Klux Klan terrorized the emancipated African Americans with lynching, mob violence, and police brutality because many of the KKK members were also police officers. In response, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1871, also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act. This gave Black Americans the right to file a lawsuit against government officials who engaged in acts of racial violence, or who refused to protect them from groups like the Klan. But, nearly a century later, in 1967, the Supreme Court severely limited that right by creating the doctrine of Qualified Immunity. The doctrine places the burden on the victim and allows bad government officials like bad cops, or abusive prison guards to get out of court with a slap on the wrist.” – from TikTiok, @campaigntoendqi)

Last year, New Mexico became the second state to effectively ban Qualified Immunity under House Bill 4. Other states that have limited or banned qualified immunity practices include Colorado, Connecticut, and New York.

New Mexico’s effective abolition of Qualified Immunity is just the beginning. There are still 46 states with government employees able to avoid accountability for the mistreatment of civilians. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Ending Qualified Immunity in other states can happen through direct lawsuits, legislative efforts, and outreach to the public who are interested in learning more. The Institute for Justice, a non-profit public interest law firm whose mission is to end abuses of government powers has initiated a Project on Immunity and Accountability, the purpose of which is to take those very actions.

To support the efforts of the Institute for Justice, consider donating to them or sharing their pages with those in your circle

-Your Friends at Undoing Racism

1 thought on “Qualified Immunity – What It Is and Why You Should Care”

  1. Thanks for this info – I remember this bill being passed in NM legislature last year but knew nothing about the history of Qualified Immunity. I’m curious about how many people have initiated a claim since then or when it actually became law.

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