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Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., lead author of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, speaks during an event on police reform last year at the U.S. Capitol. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., lead author of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, speaks during an event on police reform last year at the U.S. Capitol. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

One year later, George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has not passed despite Biden’s promise

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President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass a sweeping police reform bill by today, the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. 

This did not happen. 

May 25 marks a date by which the president promised Congress should push to have the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed, a sweeping reform bill that would address the glaring issues in the U.S. police system that have perpetuated ongoing killings of unarmed Black people and people of color. 

While he released a barrage of executive orders on day one to declare advances in equity, civil rights, and racial justice, Biden has yet to outwardly push for the implementation of an updated policing system. 

It’s one of the reasons why the overhaul bill has largely remained at a standstill. 

The House passed the sweeping bill that would combat racial discrimination and excessive force in the police force, but it hasn’t passed the Senate. 

Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) has remained in negotiations with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC). Now on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, the bill’s future remains uncertain before a tied Senate. 

Multiple members of Congress in favor of the bill marked the anniversary with a call to action from fellow congress members to pass the act, including Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), and former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro. 

“One year ago today, former police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd while three other officers looked on. The pain of his death led Americans to rise up by the millions to demand change to our criminal justice system. We must honor him with real reform.,” Padilla wrote. 

Bass, who was the original sponsor of the George Floyd Act in the House, also pushed for it to get signed into law. 

“Since George Floyd’s murder one year ago today, there have been hundreds of officer-involved deaths in the U.S. To stop this, we need to bring transparency and accountability to policing. The George Floyd #JusticeInPolicing Act does that. We need to get it signed into law,” Bass wrote. 

Castro, who formed his own “People First Policing” initiative last year and was the sole Democratic presidential candidate that was outwardly vocal on the need for police reform from the get-go, released his own words on Floyd’s anniversary. 

“George Floyd’s murder sparked the largest protest movement in our nation’s history. That movement is about justice for George Floyd and so many more. It’s also about reimagining public safety so that fewer families have to fight for justice,” he wrote. 

Shootings continue to happen

Immediately after George Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020, police violence against Black people continued. 

On June 12, an Atlanta police officer fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, a Black man who fell asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane. 

On August 23, Jacob Blake was shot by a Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer in front of his three children. Blake, a Black man, was left paralyzed and in the ensuing protests, Kyle Rittenhouse killed three people with a military -style rifle. Despite protesters' calls, he wasn’t arrested until hours later, when he turned himself in. 

On September 23, A grand jury declined to charge officers for Breonna Taylor’s death, just months before Floyd’s killing. Officers had barged into her apartment and shot her several times. She was not a suspect. 

On Oct. 26, Philadelphia police fatally shot Walter Wallace Jr, a 27-year-old Black man who was armed with a knife while he was grappling with mental health issues and was on medication. Officers did not first use a taser. 

On December 22, officers in Columbus Ohio fatally shot Andre Hill, a 47-year-old Black man. The officer was later charged with felony murder in February. 

On March 29, a Chicago officer fatally shot a 13-year-old boy, Adam Toledo, a Latino. He was the youngest person killed by Chicago police in years. 

Then, on April 11, an officer fatally shot Daunte Wright, a Black man, just 10 miles from where Derek Chauvin was facing trial in Minnesota. 

And there are more. 

Action taken since May 25 2020

There is no comprehensive George Floyd Justice in Policing bill set to be passed through the Senate soon, yet there has been some action taken in municipalities across the country in the last year. 

In June 12 2020, New York became the first state to restrict police forces following Floyd’s death, banning the use of chokeholds and repealing a law that privatized police disciplinary records.

Colorado also took action by limiting the use of qualified immunity in state courts. The state also bans the use of deadly force for arrests or apprehensions of people suspected of minor or nonviolent offenses. 

The Milwaukee school board unanimously voted to cancel all contracts with the city’s police. In Seattle, the school board also suspended its partnership with police in a unanimous vote. According to the Seattle Times, Black students make up 14% of the student body, but represent nearly 50% of students referred to police. 

In July, Los Angeles cut its police budget by $150 million. While the city said the funds would be re-invested into underserved communities, activists noted the move as performative, as it was a small piece of the department's $1.8 billion budget. Then, in May 2020, LA’s City Council unanimously voted to increase the police’s budget by 3%, to $1.76 billion, virtually the same as what it was before. 

In August, Austin Texas cut a third of its police budget, and announced a redistribution of current police functions that could also cut an additional $130 million. 

In February of this year, Berkeley California prohibited police officers from conducting traffic stops for minor offenses, instead diverting such cases to trained unarmed civilians. A Pew Research study indicates traffic stops disproportionately affect Black drivers. 

In March of this year, New York City ended qualified immunity for police officers, making it easier to sue officers for abusing their authority. 

In what was the most nail-biting trial of the year, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of killing George Floyd on April 20. He was found guilty of second-degree murder, third degree murder, and second-degree manslaugher. 

Then in May, the state of Washington implemented its own police reforms, adopting a dozen new laws banning chokeholds, a call to use de-escalation methods before additional force, and more. 

But have these moves been meaningful, considering the killings against Black people continue to happen? 

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