A bicameral group of Democrats introduced legislation that aims to increase transparency and accountability in law enforcement nationwide. The bill was crafted in response to the national protest held after the death of Mr. George Floyd.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised protesters, saying, “This large, diverse group, so many of them young, gives us hope that Americans are prepared to march and fight to make this a more perfect union, once and for all. And so today, we are taking the first of many steps.”
The Congressional Black Caucus authored the Justice in Policing Act to address the use of excessive force by police, specifically in black and minority communities, who say that access force is often unnecessarily used.
“We just announced the first ever comprehensive police accountability and reform bill to: Create a national standard for use of force – Expand pattern and practice investigations into police departments – Increase independent investigations into police misconduct.” Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) posted Monday morning.
The package will remove barriers to prosecuting police misconduct by addressing the qualified immunity doctrine. It will demilitarize the police by limiting the transfer of military weaponry to state and local police departments, combat police brutality by requiring body and dashboard cameras, ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants for drug cases, and create a national database disclosing the names of officers with patterns of abuse.
It also includes a bill passed by the House earlier this year that would make lynching a federal hate crime.
After Democrats kneeled in the Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitors Center for 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence (the duration of time a policeman kept a knee of George Floyds neck), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Karen Bass (D-Calif.), and other Democrats unveiled the package.
“Never again should the world be subjected to witnessing what we saw on the streets in Minneapolis, the slow murder of an individual by a uniformed police officer,” said Bass. “The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in our country. This movement has now spread to many nations around the world with thousands marching to register their horror and hearing the cry: I cant breathe.”
Democrats are united in reforming police practices that they say, disproportionately affect African-Americans.
“This is a moral moment in the history of our country and we must answer it with action. There is an urgent need for comprehensive reforms to our system of policing—thats what our Justice in Policing Act will get done. The time for change is now,” Wrote Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Leaders of the Democratic Party described the criminal justice and police systems as being rooted in hundreds of years of slavery, bigotry, and cultural bias.
“We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural change,” said Pelosi, surrounded by Democratic leaders and Black Caucus members.