Aloe Blacc slams qualified immunity (QI) in a powerful new USA Today op-ed. A musician, activist, and Campaign to End Qualified Immunity coalition partner, Blacc is one of many creative artists calling out the unjust rule.
“Police and other government officials can make mistakes,” Aloe Blacc writes. “Qualified immunity tramples our basic right to a fair trial against them in civil court.”
In his piece, Aloe Blacc shares the stories of James King and Muhammad Muhaymin, two victims of police abuse. In 2014, King was brutally assaulted by two undercover officers who mistook him for a fugitive. In 2017, Muhaymin was killed by bad cops while trying to use a public restroom with his service dog. Instead of facing accountability, the bad actors in both cases claimed qualified immunity. (James King’s and Muhammad Muhaymin’s stories are featured in the UNACCOUNTABLE podcast.)
“Unfortunately, there are many stories like [these], but because of the doctrine of qualified immunity, few families get their day in court, often in spite of egregious misconduct by government officials,” Aloe Blacc notes.
Blacc also points out one of the many ways in which QI is mind-boggling unjust: “You can sue a doctor or lawyer if their recklessness causes egregious harm, or even death. But you typically can’t sue an official who happens to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Internal Revenue Service.”
Bad officials, like the ones who brutalized James King and Muhammad Muhaymin, know they have the upper hand when they break the law, because qualified immunity shields them from liability. As a result, public trust in government institutions has steadily eroded over the years.
“There’s no reason it needs to be this way,” writes Aloe Blacc in USA Today. “Congress and state legislatures can act at any time to revise those rules. . . .We need reform that gives everyone an equal chance to make their case. ”