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.”
111 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Demetrius Stanley, 311 of 111
2. Ashton Pinke, 272 of 111
3. Andrew Brown, 423 of 111
4. Matthew Williams, 354 of 111
5. Daunte Wright, 20Source:Twitter/@MeritLaw 5 of 111
6. Marvin D. Scott III, 26Source:GoFundMe 6 of 111
7. Kurt Reinhold, 42Source:Getty 7 of 111
8. McHale Rose, 198 of 111
9. Xzavier Hill, 18Source:Change.org 9 of 111
10. Frederick Cox, 18Source:Facebook/Tenicka Shannon 10 of 111
11. Patrick Warren Sr.Source:Patrick Warren Jr. 11 of 111
12. Carl Dorsey III, 3912 of 111
13. Dolal Idd, 23Source:GoFundMe 13 of 111
14. Andre' Hill, 4714 of 111
15. Joshua Feast15 of 111
16. Maurice GordonSource:Mercury LLC 16 of 111
17. Casey Goodson Jr.Source:Walton + Brown, LLP 17 of 111
18. Rodney ApplewhiteSource:Ben Crump 18 of 111
19. A.J. Crooms19 of 111
20. Sincere Pierce20 of 111
21. Walter Wallace Jr.21 of 111
22. Marcellis Stinnette, teen killed by police in Waukegan, IllinoisSource:Twitter 22 of 111
23. Jonathan Price23 of 111
24. Deon Kay24 of 111
25. Daniel Prude25 of 111
26. Damian Daniels26 of 111
27. Dijon Kizzee27 of 111
28. Trayford PellerinSource:GoFundMe 28 of 111
29. David McAtee29 of 111
30. Natosha “Tony” McDade30 of 111
31. George Floyd31 of 111
32. Yassin Mohamed32 of 111
33. Finan H. Berhe33 of 111
34. Sean ReedSource:Twitter 34 of 111
35. Steven Demarco TaylorSource:S. Lee Merritt 35 of 111
36. Ariane McCreeSource:The Herald/YouTube 36 of 111
37. Terrance Franklin37 of 111
38. Miles HallSource:KRON4 38 of 111
39. Darius TarverSource:S. Lee Merritt 39 of 111
40. William Green40 of 111
41. Samuel David Mallard, 1941 of 111
42. Kwame "KK" Jones, 17Source:facebook 42 of 111
43. De’von Bailey, 1943 of 111
44. Christopher Whitfield, 3144 of 111
45. Anthony Hill, 2645 of 111
46. De'Von Bailey, 1946 of 111
47. Eric Logan, 5447 of 111
48. Jamarion Robinson, 2648 of 111
49. Gregory Hill Jr., 3049 of 111
50. JaQuavion Slaton, 2050 of 111
51. Ryan Twyman, 2451 of 111
52. Brandon Webber, 2052 of 111
53. Jimmy Atchison, 2153 of 111
54. Willie McCoy, 2054 of 111
55. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 2155 of 111
56. D’ettrick Griffin, 1856 of 111
57. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 57 of 111
58. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 58 of 111
59. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 59 of 111
60. Antwon Rose Jr., 17Source:false 60 of 111
61. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 61 of 111
62. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 62 of 111
63. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 63 of 111
64. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 64 of 111
65. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 65 of 111
66. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 66 of 111
67. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 67 of 111
68. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 68 of 111
69. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 69 of 111
70. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 70 of 111
71. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 71 of 111
72. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 72 of 111
73. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 73 of 111
74. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 74 of 111
75. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 75 of 111
76. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 76 of 111
77. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 77 of 111
78. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 78 of 111
79. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 79 of 111
80. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 80 of 111
81. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 81 of 111
82. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 82 of 111
83. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 83 of 111
84. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 84 of 111
85. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 85 of 111
86. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 86 of 111
87. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 87 of 111
88. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 88 of 111
89. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 89 of 111
90. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 90 of 111
91. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 91 of 111
92. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 92 of 111
93. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 93 of 111
94. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 94 of 111
95. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 95 of 111
96. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 96 of 111
97. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 97 of 111
98. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 98 of 111
99. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 99 of 111
100. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 100 of 111
101. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 101 of 111
102. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 102 of 111
103. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 103 of 111
104. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 104 of 111
105. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 105 of 111
106. Patrick Harmon, 50106 of 111
107. Jonathan Hart, 21107 of 111
108. Maurice Granton, 24108 of 111
109. Julius Johnson, 23109 of 111
110. Jamee Johnson, 22Source:S. Lee Merritt 110 of 111
111. Michael Dean, 28Source:S. Lee Merritt 111 of 111
Civil Rights Leaders Unite To Demand Congress Pass The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act was originally published on newsone.com