Civil Rights Leaders Demand Leads to George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Negotiations

Don Owens, Legal Committee, [email protected], (202) 934-1880
Juan Martinez, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, [email protected], (212) 956-2200
Stephen Peters, The Leadership Conference, [email protected], (202) 466-1887
Teresa Fairness, National Urban League; [email protected], (212) 558-5362
Angelo Greco, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation / Black Women Roundtable, [email protected], (917) 499-2688
Rachel Nördlinger, National Action Network, [email protected], (347) 821-9678
Jonah Bryson, NAACP, [email protected], (647) 530-6641
Tkeban Jahannes, NCNW, Inc., [email protected], 404-944-1615

We appreciate the efforts of the lawmakers leading the negotiation of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We were encouraged to see that the US House of Representatives passed a strong version of the law last year and this year again. However, more than a year after the assassination of George Floyd and weeks after a bill was circulated, the US Senate has still not agreed on key provisions of the bill. Congress must ensure justice. We jointly call for Congress to honor its obligation to come up with a final bill that the House and Senate can pass before the end of June and ensure that a strong George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is passed before the August recess.

The nation desperately needs a transformation in police policies and practices – from city centers to suburban neighborhoods to rural counties. The only way to begin this process is through federal legislation that sets meaningful standards and removes legal barriers to holding officials accountable for unconstitutional police practices. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was designed and created with accountability in mind and contains provisions that are largely supported by the American people. This vital civil rights legislation is long overdue.

Many in law enforcement agree that meaningful changes are needed. However, there are some factions within the law enforcement community that do not want meaningful changes or accountability. They are determined to stand in the way of a moving law, and their allies in Congress allow this obstruction.

Law enforcement agencies should not have the power to dictate the terms of, or have the power to stop, comprehensive police accountability legislation. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain, the violent attacks on Jacob Blake, Rodney King, Abner Louima and many others in communities of color were caused by a culture that allows police officers to go with impunity by failing to do so to hold them accountable for their actions. The logical and necessary answer is strong civil rights legislation that breaks this culture to create meaningful change.

Congress needs to pass a tough police accountability measure that addresses wrongdoing directly, not a bill that tinkers with justice and responsibility. Meaningful legislation must hold police officers accountable for excessive acts of violence, sexual misconduct and obstruction of justice. It must provide a way for those affected by police misconduct to seek justice in our judicial system and external oversight that will hold officials and communities accountable. It must prevent wrongdoing by allowing liability and damages that take account of the gravity of these crimes. It must stipulate data collection on police misconduct and set national standards for police work. It needs to ensure that the Justice Department has the tools to enforce the country’s civil rights laws when violated by law enforcement officers.

After so many have taken to the streets to peacefully march for George Floyd and too many others for justice, Congress must deliver on its promise to the nation to reform policing meaningfully. The nation is fed up with waiting. Congress must press negotiations by the end of this month and pass a strong George Floyd Justice in Policing Act before going into the August recess.


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