Civil rights and social justice leaders convened virtually Wednesday morning to demand comprehensive congressional action and hold police accountable for their lethal and excessive actions that far too often involve Black lives.
They united to urge Congress to move swiftly and pass the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act into law, describing the bill as a literal matter of life or death amid a national policing crisis. Their demands came just weeks ahead of the start of the George Floyd murder trial in Minneapolis and one week before the House was expected to vote on the crucial and timely legislation.
Former California Rep. and current Housing and Urban Development Secretary Karen Bass in June unveiled the sweeping legislation aimed at reforming the ways in which police departments enforce the nation’s laws. Led by the Congressional Black Caucus the bill ambitiously aims to end police brutality, hold police accountable, improve transparency in policing and create meaningful, structural change when it comes to how law enforcement does their jobs.
If the bill advances through the House and Senate and gets signed into law, it would be the first-ever bold, comprehensive law enforcement accountability and transparency legislation.
Some of the notable portions of the bill include redefining malleable legal terms that impede the successful prosecution of killer cops as well as not offering any new federal funding for police departments.
Perhaps most significantly, the bill aims to hold police accountable by collecting data about officers accused of misconduct and worse behavior. It would establish a national registry that would attempt to address loopholes that allow cops who have been fired from one department to be hired by another.
There are other pertinent provisions the Justice in Policing Act covers, as well, including mandating the use of body cameras and dashboard cameras.
Wednesday’s media briefing began with a viewing of the infamous video of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck before eight civil rights and social justice leaders each briefly addressed the legislation that they say is needed to have any semblance of accountability for police officers who use excessive and lethal force under questionable circumstances.
“The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is focused, first and foremost, on addressing the regime of impunity that has allowed police officers for decades to kill innocent Black men, women, and children without accountability,” Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund President & Director-Counsel said. “If Congress fails to act to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, it will prove Derek Chauvin right. It will reinforce that in encounters with Black people, law enforcement officers are above the law.”
Ifill and others compared the plight to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed to other historic legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
“Every state has been implicated by this issue,” she said. “Because there are not sufficient civil rights protections at the state level … we expect Congress to act.”
Wade Henderson, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Interim President & CEO, emphasized the need for a national database of police who have been disciplined for using excessive and/or lethal force to prevent them from being rehired in law enforcement capacities elsewhere. Mentioning how the bill bans no-knock warrants and excessive force maneuvers like chokeholds, Henderson admitted that while the bill may not be “perfect,” it still “represents meaningful progress” and should be passed swiftly by the House and Senate.
“We cannot go through this cycle over and over again,” Henderson said. “Now is the time for those in our nation’s highest offices to take steps to end state-sanctioned violence” and bring structural change to end white supremacy.
Derrick Johnson, NAACP President & CEO, spoke about the abuse of power that law enforcement employs when it comes to accountability for their actions, especially as it relates to Black people.
“For African Americans, we have far too many individuals who take their oath of duty for granted … because they know they have a special privilege,” Johnson said while alluding to a lack of police accountability.
“No person sworn to protect and uphold the law should operate above the law,” Johnson said before adding later: “They are able to do that because there is no accountability in place.”
Johnnetta Betsch Cole, National Council of Negro Women National Chair & President, made sure to point out that it’s not just Black men who are victimized by the police.
“There’s a very long history – and herstory – of violence against Black women, men and children by individual white supremacists and state-sanctioned brutality,” she said.
Cole ran down the very real history of police violence against Black people, going back hundreds of years from slavery and lynchings and enduring through to Reconstruction, Jim Crow and thriving until the current day.
“State-sanctioned violence against African Americans continues as some police – clearly not all – engage in excessive fore and actions that lead to the unwarranted death of Black women, Black men, and yes, Black children,” Cole added. “It will not cease until there are specific and concrete actions … to stop acts of misconduct and racial force in policing.”
Damon Hewitt, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Executive Vice President, spoke about the “willfulness standard” that he said compels prosecutors to decline indicting officers out of fear they will not be able to win the case.
“Essentially it doesn’t matter that someones dead,” Hewitt said. “It only matters under current law that the prosecutor can prove that the officer acted under willful intent.”
Calling for a quick reintroduction and passage of the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, Hewitt cited the “moral clarity” he said the law would bring with its enactment.
Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network President, summed it all up succinctly: “This is not an anti-police bill; it’s an anti-bad policing bill.”
Melanie Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation President & CEO, said challenged Congress: “It’s just time to act.”
Marc H. Morial, National Urban League President & CEO, said, “the call from the people is loud and it’s clear — this is a moment like the ’60s where history will record: where did you stand?”
Of course, it’s not that simple, as the bill would require both chambers of Congress to vote in favor of it during a time when bipartisanship has been challenged. But trying to make the bill “perfect” would be an exercise in futility, Hewitt, the executive vice president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, suggested.
“I congress in the ’60s waited for the perfect voting rights act, we wouldn’t have had legislation,” he said. “No bill is perfect.” But, he continued, this “bill is game-changing, it is paradigm-shifting.”
110 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Ashton Pinke, 271 of 110
2. Andrew Brown, 422 of 110
3. Matthew Williams, 353 of 110
4. Daunte Wright, 20Source:Twitter/@MeritLaw 4 of 110
5. Marvin D. Scott III, 26Source:GoFundMe 5 of 110
6. Kurt Reinhold, 42Source:Getty 6 of 110
7. McHale Rose, 197 of 110
8. Xzavier Hill, 18Source:Change.org 8 of 110
9. Frederick Cox, 18Source:Facebook/Tenicka Shannon 9 of 110
10. Patrick Warren Sr.Source:Patrick Warren Jr. 10 of 110
11. Carl Dorsey III, 3911 of 110
12. Dolal Idd, 23Source:GoFundMe 12 of 110
13. Andre' Hill, 4713 of 110
14. Joshua Feast14 of 110
15. Maurice GordonSource:Mercury LLC 15 of 110
16. Casey Goodson Jr.Source:Walton + Brown, LLP 16 of 110
17. Rodney ApplewhiteSource:Ben Crump 17 of 110
18. A.J. Crooms18 of 110
19. Sincere Pierce19 of 110
20. Walter Wallace Jr.20 of 110
21. Marcellis Stinnette, teen killed by police in Waukegan, IllinoisSource:Twitter 21 of 110
22. Jonathan Price22 of 110
23. Deon Kay23 of 110
24. Daniel Prude24 of 110
25. Damian Daniels25 of 110
26. Dijon Kizzee26 of 110
27. Trayford PellerinSource:GoFundMe 27 of 110
28. David McAtee28 of 110
29. Natosha “Tony” McDade29 of 110
30. George Floyd30 of 110
31. Yassin Mohamed31 of 110
32. Finan H. Berhe32 of 110
33. Sean ReedSource:Twitter 33 of 110
34. Steven Demarco TaylorSource:S. Lee Merritt 34 of 110
35. Ariane McCreeSource:The Herald/YouTube 35 of 110
36. Terrance Franklin36 of 110
37. Miles HallSource:KRON4 37 of 110
38. Darius TarverSource:S. Lee Merritt 38 of 110
39. William Green39 of 110
40. Samuel David Mallard, 1940 of 110
41. Kwame "KK" Jones, 17Source:facebook 41 of 110
42. De’von Bailey, 1942 of 110
43. Christopher Whitfield, 3143 of 110
44. Anthony Hill, 2644 of 110
45. De'Von Bailey, 1945 of 110
46. Eric Logan, 5446 of 110
47. Jamarion Robinson, 2647 of 110
48. Gregory Hill Jr., 3048 of 110
49. JaQuavion Slaton, 2049 of 110
50. Ryan Twyman, 2450 of 110
51. Brandon Webber, 2051 of 110
52. Jimmy Atchison, 2152 of 110
53. Willie McCoy, 2053 of 110
54. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 2154 of 110
55. D’ettrick Griffin, 1855 of 110
56. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 56 of 110
57. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 57 of 110
58. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 58 of 110
59. Antwon Rose Jr., 17Source:false 59 of 110
60. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 60 of 110
61. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 61 of 110
62. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 62 of 110
63. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 63 of 110
64. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 64 of 110
65. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 65 of 110
66. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 66 of 110
67. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 67 of 110
68. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 68 of 110
69. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 69 of 110
70. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 70 of 110
71. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 71 of 110
72. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 72 of 110
73. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 73 of 110
74. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 74 of 110
75. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 75 of 110
76. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 76 of 110
77. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 77 of 110
78. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 78 of 110
79. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 79 of 110
80. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 80 of 110
81. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 81 of 110
82. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 82 of 110
83. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 83 of 110
84. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 84 of 110
85. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 85 of 110
86. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 86 of 110
87. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 87 of 110
88. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 88 of 110
89. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 89 of 110
90. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 90 of 110
91. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 91 of 110
92. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 92 of 110
93. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 93 of 110
94. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 94 of 110
95. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 95 of 110
96. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 96 of 110
97. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 97 of 110
98. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 98 of 110
99. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 99 of 110
100. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 100 of 110
101. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 101 of 110
102. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 102 of 110
103. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 103 of 110
104. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 104 of 110
105. Patrick Harmon, 50105 of 110
106. Jonathan Hart, 21106 of 110
107. Maurice Granton, 24107 of 110
108. Julius Johnson, 23108 of 110
109. Jamee Johnson, 22Source:S. Lee Merritt 109 of 110
110. Michael Dean, 28Source:S. Lee Merritt 110 of 110
Civil Rights Leaders Unite To Demand Congress Pass The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act was originally published on newsone.com