George Floyd’s murder May 25, 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis police, has had a profound impact around the world. Politics, policies and policing are being shaped and changed in search of social justice.
While funeral arrangements were being planned, the six year old daughter of George Floyd Gianna Floyd was prophetic when she stated, “Daddy changed the world.” The Defender looks at the changes that have resulted after his death.
- George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (HR 7120): Introduced on June 8, 2020 by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37), this proposed legislation 1) lowers the criminal intent standard—from willful to knowing or reckless—to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution, 2) limits qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer or state correctional officer, 3) authorizes the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for a pattern or practice of discrimination, 4) creates a national registry—the National Police Misconduct Registry—to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct, 5) establishes a framework to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state, and local levels and 6) establishes new requirements for law enforcement officers and agencies, including to report data on use-of-force incidents, to obtain training on implicit bias and racial profiling, and to wear body cameras.
- George Floyd Act: Unveiled by the Texas Legislative Black Caucus in August 2020, the George Floyd Act, is a sweeping police reform proposal that would ban chokeholds across the state and require law enforcement officers to intervene or render aid if another officer is using excessive force while on the job. The bill would allow civil lawsuits to address qualified immunity, which shields government officials from litigation. Another provision would end arrests for fine-only offenses like theft under $100.
- President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on Police Reform, which 1) called for higher professional standards, 2) training on de-escalation techniques and use of force, though it provided no consequences for non-compliant police departments, 3) established co-respondent services — a system in which officers would pair with social workers when responding to nonviolent calls and 4) it was said to set up a national database to track police misconduct. No such database has been set up. Moreover, the order does not address the link between racism and police brutality, a crucial element of national police reform efforts and demands.
- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, in June 2020, signed an executive order banning chokeholds by officers in the city of Houston. Five Black Houston City Councilmembers submitted recommendations regarding meaningful public safety reform.
- Minneapolis City Council forced the police department to ban chokeholds and neck restraints, as have several other cities
- Minneapolis City Council also unanimously approved a proposal to eliminate the city’s police department, and to establish a new “holistic” approach to public safety in the form of the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.
- Unannounced police raids, known as “no-knock warrants” have been scrapped in Louisville – where Breonna Taylor died. She was at home in bed when police officers entered her apartment. She died after being shot eight times. Other cities, as well, have banned the use of no-knock warrants.
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would divert money from the city’s police department to social services.
- NYC also repealed a law that locked down police complaint records.
- Several school districts across the country have ended their security contracts with police.
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