Following weeks of protest against police brutality and racism, The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 was introduced on Monday by top Democratic lawmakers- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Black senators Kamala Harris (CA) and Cory Booker (NJ), Representative Jerry Nadler (NY) who heads the Judiciary Committee in the House, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus. It comes as Minneapolis lawmakers vowed to disband the city’s police force after the death of George Floyd, at the hands of white police officer Derek Chauvin.
As Speaker Pelosi unveiled the bill, she read the names of Black men and Black women who have died at the hands of homicidal police officers. The Justice in Policing Act creates a misconduct directory, bans chokeholds, eliminates “no-knock” warrants, and forces federal police to use body and dashboard cameras. It also would make it easier to hold police liable for civil rights violations by granting power to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to issue subpoenas to police departments to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations “into discriminatory and unconstitutional policing practices.” Additionally, it would mandate training against racial profiling and calls for federal funds to be withheld from local police forces who do not make similar reforms.
It is unclear whether the Republican-controlled Senate would support the legislation and are contemplating writing their own reform bill. Republican Senator Mitt Romney (UT), once again broke ranks with his party, who are primarily aligned behind President Donald Trump’s militarized law and order approach, by marching in a Washington DC protest after the death of George Floyd. Romney’s participation is the latest instance of discord in his contentious relationship with Trump, which grew increasingly tense during the Senate’s impeachment trial of the President after he broke ranks with the party to vote to convict the President of abuse of power. On Saturday, Romney tweeted a picture of his father with the caption, “This is my father, George Romney, participating in a Civil Rights march in the Detroit suburbs during the late 1960s—’Force alone will not eliminate riots,’ he said. ‘We must eliminate the problems from which they stem.”
Democratic Congressional members along with Speaker Pelosi, adorned with scarves made of kente cloth, knelt to honor racial injustice victims. “Today, this movement of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action,” Speaker Pelosi proclaimed.
“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.”
For more information on The Justice In Policing Act, please click the link below.
Kelly Washington is a freelance writer and blogger living on the southside of Chicago. You can follow her on social media @ Sunrise and Sugar (Facebook).