Today, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (SC-06) and Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Hank Johnson (GA-04) and Al Lawson (FL-05) held a call with regional reporters calling on the Senate to take up the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House in June with bipartisan support. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act reimagines policing for the 21st Century by banning chokeholds, stopping no-knock warrants, combatting racial profiling, eliminating qualified immunity, and mandating data collection, including body cameras and dashboard cameras.
In contrast to the historic George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the President's weak Executive Order and Senate Republicans' proposal, which was rejected on a bipartisan basis, both fall sadly and seriously short of what is required to combat the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality -- failing to contain meaningful, mandatory accountability measures to end misconduct.
"The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act over two months ago, and we continue to call on the Senate to take up this bipartisan bill without delay," said Whip Clyburn. This legislation gives us an opportunity to live up to what Alexis de Tocqueville observed about America's greatness when he wrote, "America is not great because it is more enlightened than any other nation, but rather because it has always been able to repair its faults.' It is long overdue for us to repair some faults in our policing system and apply the greatness of America equitably to all of our citizens."
"It is imperative that we change the culture of policing. There must be an increase in transparency, better recruiting of officers who have a heart to truly serve, and the opportunity for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to conduct outside investigations with subpoena powers," said Congresswoman Johnson. "Since the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, we have witnessed several violent encounters between Black people and law enforcement. It is my hope that the Senate immediately takes this bill up for consideration before another life is lost."
"The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act over two months ago, and today we are calling on the Senate take it up without delay," said Rep. Johnson. "Since the murder of George Floyd, we have witnessed several instances of police brutality across our country: Rayshard Brooks, Trayford Pellerin, Jacob Blake, and too many more. In fact, there was another troubling incident this weekend in Clayton County, just south of downtown Atlanta, where law enforcement officers used excessive force against an unarmed Black man. Across the country, Americans are still demanding true police reform, to ensure that everyone receives equal justice under the law. Leader McConnell should take up the House-passed bipartisan bill and do so immediately, so that we can save lives and families across our country."
"How many more lives will be lost before the Senate will take action?" Rep. Lawson asked. "We need to ensure police departments are implementing changes and addressing the way officers are trained to respond to citizens. We rely on our law enforcement to protect us all. Now is the time for transformative police reform. "
The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act has been endorsed by Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice; and John Crawford, Jr., father of John Crawford III as well as leading civil rights and social justice groups such as the NAACP, National Action Network, Urban League and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. More than 750 celebrities and entertainment companies endorsed the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act such as Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Lizzo, Meek Mill, Elton John, Kelly Rowland, Justin Bieber, Miguel, Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, Jonas Brothers, Alyssa Milano and Ariana Grande, among others. More here.
The bill was endorsed by leading corporations, including Hewlett Packard (HP), law enforcement such as National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the National Fraternal Order of Police President issued a positive statement on the bill, noting there are provisions that would have a "positive impact on law enforcement and policing." The full list of supporters can be found here.
THE GEORGE FLOYD JUSTICE IN POLICING ACT:
* Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
* Bans chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
* Mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal offices and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
* Establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave on agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
* Amends federal criminal statute from "willfulness" to a "recklessness" standard to successfully identify and prosecute police misconduct.
* Reforms qualified immunity so that individuals are not barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights.
* Establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just and equitable public safety approaches.
* Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices and requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama's Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
* Requires state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
* Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
* Establishes a Department of Justice task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.