By Cardinal Points
Since the wrongful death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last spring, and many other Black Americans, the United States needed to initiate progressive police reform bills to combat the issue of systematic racism in law enforcement. After a summer of protesting, the Black Lives Matter movement has pushed reform on the local, state and national legislature.
On March 3, the United States House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a police reform bill that would ban chokeholds, alter qualified immunity for law enforcement, ban no-knock warrants, mandate data collection on police encounters, prohibit religious and racial profiling, and redirect funding for mental health services in communities.
The law passed in the House by a vote of 220-212, along party lines. The bill will be brought to the Democratic-controlled Senate, which has a better chance of passing. This is opposed to the Republican-controlled Senate in July 2020 that failed to pass the law.
President Biden also is in favor of the bill. On Feb. 25 he tweeted, “I am pleased that the House will vote next week on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. I encourage the House to pass it. Following Senate consideration, I hope to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill.”
Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with Floyd’s murder, is currently on trial for second-degree murder and manslaughter in Minneapolis, after being recorded kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
Not only has the federal government passed police reform bills, but so have many state governments.
One year after of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the state of Georgia passed a bill to remove the citizen’s arrest law. Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law dates back to the Civil War, which was used to capture runaway slaves. The repeal of the law is a turning point for the state to enact more protections for minorities.
Travis McMichael, a civilian, fatally shot Arbery while he was jogging Feb. 23, 2020. McMichael’s father, Gregory McMichael, claimed Arbery attacked his son and he had tried to issue a citizen’s arrest.
The video of Arbery’s murder circulated online. The McMichaels pleaded not guilty to an array of crimes, including malice and felony murder charges, counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. These men shouldn’t be let go so fast after shooting an innocent man.
In cities and states across the U.S., “Breonna’s Law” has been enacted to ban no-knock search warrants from police. This law was passed in Kentucky weeks after the tragic death of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed Black woman who was fatally shot in her home by three Louisville police officers. Virginia recently passed the law in December 2020, while Florida and Oregon have similar laws banning no knock warrants.
Police reform is the next step in creating racial equality and a fair justice system in the United States. Without progressive bills such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, racial justice will not be served.