By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today
The Congressional Black Caucus on Monday introduced “The Justice in Policing Act of 2020,” legislation designed to make the nation’s police more accountable to the nation’s citizens, especially its black citizens, in the wake of the brutal in police custody death of George Floyd.
The May 25th murder Floyd by a Minneapolis cop has sparked worldwide protests about police brutality and has led to a demand in the U.S. for greater accountability by the police.
Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, called the out the names of other unarmed black men and women killed by police. Bass (D., California) said the names of several victims before asking other members of the CBC to shout out the names of other black men and black women killed by police.
Audience members screamed the names of Freddie Gray, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Dontre Hamilton, Breonna Taylor, Rekia Boyd, Corey Jones, Terrence Crutcher and Botham Jean.
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D., California), who helped write the legislation, said, “America’s sidewalks are stained with black blood. In the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders, we must ask ourselves: how many more times must our families and our communities be put through the trauma of an unarmed black man or a woman’s killing at the hands of police who are sworn to protect and serve them?
“What we are witnessing is the birth of a new movement in our country with thousands coming together in every state marching to demand change that ends police brutality, holds officers accountable and calls for transparency,” Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said during a Washington, D.C. news conference. “For over 100 years, Black communities in America have sadly been marching against police abuse and calling the for the police to protect and serve them as they do others. Today, we unveil the Justice in Policing Act, which will establish a bold transformative vision of policing in America. Never again should the world be subjected to witnessing what we saw on the streets in Minnesota with George Floyd.”
The bill, if passed and signed into law, it would:
Ban chokeholds, carotid holds, and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement
Establish a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic cops who are fired or leave an agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability
Amend a federal criminal statute from a “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard to successfully identify and prosecute police misconduct
Require state and local law enforcement agencies to report us of force data by race, gender, disability, religion and age
Mandate the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal officers and require state and local enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras
Prohibit federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandate training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement
Reform qualified immunity so that individuals are not barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights
Establish 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
Create law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices and require the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing
Improve the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and create a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments
Establish a Department of Justice task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, states and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
Thirty-five members of the U.S. Senate and 166 members of the House of Representatives are sponsoring the bill.