Families of Black Men Killed by Cops Push for Serious Reform

Young boys walk past George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 21, 2021, a day after Derek Chauvin was convicted.
Young boys walk past George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 21, 2021, a day after Derek Chauvin was convicted.
Photo: Kerem Yucel (Getty Images)

The families of Black men killed by police spoke with White House officials and senators Thursday about the passage of a meaningful reform bill that will address police brutality, with the May 25 anniversary of George Floyd’s death being the goal date.

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Families left the meetings optimistic that lawmakers are working tirelessly to achieve that goal, according to the Associated Press.

“They said that we are going to do everything in our power to make sure we have a meaningful bill that we can put on President Biden’s desk,” said lawyer Ben Crump after a White House meeting Thursday afternoon.

The families are advocating for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds and qualified immunity for law enforcement. Those are the meatiest parts of the bill. It would also create national standards for policing.

After President Joe Biden’s first joint congressional address, the families and their representatives met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. In attendance were representatives and family members of Floyd, Eric Garner, Terence Crutcher, Andrew Brown and Botham Jean—each of whom was killed by cops.

They then met with Cedric Richmond, the White House director of public engagement; Susan Rice, the director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Dana Remus, the White House counsel.

Though Biden pressed lawmakers Wednesday to pass the bill, it is still uncertain if any progress will be made by May 25. The House passed the measure in March, but it’s struggling to gain consensus in the Senate. Part of the issue is that the chamber is evenly split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

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Unfortunately, no matter how many Black people cops kill, the value of our lives will always be up for debate.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

DISCUSSION

The families are advocating for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds and qualified immunity for law enforcement.

Chokeholds, good luck with that. Areas that have banned them have not seen a marked decrease in their use. Or of prosecutors willing to prosecute cops still using them. Just look at NYC, which made them illegal in 1993 — Yet Eric Garner was choked to death just a couple of years ago on camera, with no charges filed.

As for qualified immunity, not all democrats in the Senate are on board with addressing this. And no Republicans. So get to contacting your Senators people and explain why you want meaningful change here.

It would also create national standards for policing.

There needs to be a national certification/licensing program. With a way to yank that for something less serious than “convicted of a felony”, which is the standard many states that have this use. And it must be a part of the termination process to upload that cops complete record to it, and hiring process to review it.