With one knee down, Democrats say, ‘Black Americans want to stop being killed’
Democrats in Congress are again using symbolism to introduce the New Police Reform Legislation.
As the country is divided between those who want to cut funding to police forces and those who want to dismantle it altogether, Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced extensive legislation to reform the U.S. police.
The move follows massive protests across the country after George Floyd died under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago.
According to the BBC, the bill would "make it easier to prosecute police misconduct, ban strangulation, and tackle racism.”
“This is a rare moment in our nation’s history,” said Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Injustice stares us so plainly in the face that the great mass of our people are demanding change. The institutions of our government, our democracy, have an obligation to answer. Today, we are taking the first of many necessary steps to respond to our national pain with bold action.”
Despite facing an imposing Republican majority in the Senate, Democrats in Congress have taken advantage of the national discontent in the run-up to the presidential election to introduce the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, sponsored by Schumer, African-American Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, as well as members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The bill would require federal police to use body and dashboard cameras, ban stranglings, eliminate unannounced police raids (known as "no-knock warrants"), facilitate police accountability for civil rights violations, and require that federal funds be withheld from local police forces that fail to make similar reforms.
"The martyrdom of George Floyd gave the American experience a moment of national anguish, as we grieve for the black Americans killed by police brutality," Pelosi said.
"Today, this movement of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action,” she added.
For her part, former attorney general and presidential candidate Kamala Harris said: “We’re here because black Americans want to stop being killed.”
The bill makes lynching a federal crime, limits the sale of military weapons to police, and gives the Justice Department the authority to investigate state and local police for evidence of bias or misconduct throughout the department.
It would also create a "national police misconduct registry," a database of complaints against police.
But the proposal did not come only on paper.
Democrats in Congress took the opportunity to send a strong message to the country by kneeling quietly for eight minutes and 46 seconds in the Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill, the time it took Floyd to lose consciousness.
"Sometimes it takes a long time for things to change, but when it comes to this issue, what is very different this time is that you have an absolute rainbow of people who are out and in some instances in some cities when I look at the television camera I have to look to find the African-Americans," Congresswoman and Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Karen Bass told CBS News. "There are people around the country now who understand this issue like never before. It used to be when polls were done that people would say, 'I've never had a problem with police, so, I don't understand what the issue is.' I think we have finally crossed the bridge where people can say, 'It has not been my experience, but I understand it's yours.'"