Grand Jury returns 28 true bills with multiple count indictments

The Grand Jury of Greene County, Alabama went into session on April 5, 2021 and ended the session on April 6, 2021. The Grand Jury considered various criminal charges against various defendants and return herewith 28 true bills, some of which were multiple count indictments, resulting in 21 felonies and 8 misdemeanors. There were 41 cases continued, all but one case being drug cases continued because there were no Certificate of Analysis from the Department of Forensic Sciences. There were 16 no bills returned. -Jakeuis Rencher was indicted for discharging a firearm into occupied building, criminal mischief III and attempted murder. -Shayla V. Hill was indicted for alcohol – possession of still, illegal possession of alcohol and attempt to elude. – Lathen Scot Box was indicted for theft of property and possession of drug paraphernalia. -Benny Earl Yauger was indicted for possession of marijuana I. – Janie Williams was indicted for hindering prosecution 1st degree and disorderly conduct. – Marvin Anthony Jones was indicted for possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana II. -Ladradeium Simmons was indicted for unlawful possession of a controlled substance carrying a concealed weapon and trafficking – opium. -Bo Zhang was indicted for trafficking in cannabis and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. -Weidong Sun was indicted for trafficking in cannabis and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. -Isaiah Shabazz Essex was indicted for kidnapping II, menacing and harassment. – Nathaniel Cook was indicted of receiving stolen property I. -Dequante Threatts was indicted for two counts of forgery third degree. -Antonio Gandy was indicted for  Rape II and enticing a child for immoral purposes. -William Chad Randolph was indicted for Rape I.

Newswire: St. Louis elects Tishaura Jones as city’s first Black woman mayor

Tishaura Jones

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Tishaura Jones began her political career in 2002 as an appointed Democratic Committeewoman of St. Louis’ 8th Ward. Most recently, Jones served two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives, becoming the state’s first African American and first woman to ascend to the Assistant Minority Floor Leader post. On April 6, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority sister celebrated another historic first: Jones won the election as the city’s first Black woman mayor. “Congratulations to our very own chapter Soror Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones on becoming the first African American female Mayor of the City of St. Louis,” The Deltas tweeted. At her victory speech, Jones pledged to continue working hard for equality. “It’s time for St. Louis to thrive,” she told a cheering crowd of supporters. “It’s time to bring a breath of fresh air to our neighborhoods.” “I will work to address inequities in the delivery of city services, and I will not stay silent when I see racism, homophobia, xenophobia, or religious intolerance. I will not stay silent when I spot any injustice,” she declared. Jones, 49, said her campaign had begun breaking down the historic racial barriers and the racial divides that exist and have existed for generations in St. Louis. “I’m ready to work,” added Jones, who has served as the city’s treasurer for the past eight years. Her victory arrives on the heels of Kim Janey’s ascension to mayor in Boston, another major U.S. city that never had a Black woman chief executive officer. Jones, who holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Hampton University, and a master’s in health administration from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health, is an active volunteer with a dedication to public service. She has earned recognition from various organizations, including the Lupus Foundation of America and the St. Louis Coalition for Human Rights. “Congratulations, Mayor-elect Tishaura Jones,” tweeted District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We’re all rooting for you and St. Louis.”

Newswire: ‘He belonged to us!’: Family of Daunte Wright speaks out; Kim Potter, police shooter and Brooklyn Center Police Chief both resign

Katie Wright, mother of Daunte Wright (C), with Floyd family lawyer, Attorney Ben Crump (L), and Wright family members (R) speaks during press conference at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 13, 2021. – Tensions have soared over the death on Sunday of African American Daunte Wright near the Midwestern US city, a community already on edge over the ongoing trial of a policeman accused of killing another Black man, George Floyd. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Daunte Wright with his one year old son and Attorney Ben Crump with Daunte Wright’s mother and aunt at press conference

 

By Charise Frazier, Newsone

Several members of Daunte Wright‘s family spoke out on Tuesday alongside other families who gained national prominence after losing a loved one to state sanctioned violence. “It was the worst day of my life,” Wright’s mother, Katie Wright said as she stood backed by her family. Wright explained that she was on the phone with her son after he was stopped by Brooklyn Center police on April 11. Wright claims her son told her he was pulled over due to the air-fresheners in the rear-view mirror. As she attempted to provide her son with her insurance information, she said she heard her son exchange words with the officer leading to a scuffle. Seconds later the call ended. The next call she received was life changing. A woman riding with Daunte told her that her son was shot and was now unresponsive. “That was the last time I seen my son. That was the last time I heard from my son and I have no explanation,” she said through tears. One of the most emotional moments came as Naisha Wright, Daunte’s aunt, grieved openly over her family’s loss. She said that she wanted to represent her brother Aubrey Wright, Daunte’s father, who refused to attend the press conference due to his heartbreak. “They murdered my nephew! She killed my nephew. Every pistol, every taser, it has a safety on it,” she began. “I watched that video like everybody else watched that video, that woman held that gun out in front of her for a long damn time,” she continued in reference to the theory that Potter mistook her taser for a gun. “I don’t care what nobody got to say about him, he was loved! He was ours! He came from us. My brother and my sister is hurt,” she continued. “He belonged to us!” she later said while cradling her mother who broke with emotion. “It is unbelievable, something I could not fathom that in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a suburb 10 miles from where the Chauvin trial regarding George Floyd was taking place, that a police officer would shoot and kill another unarmed Black man,” said civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is represent the family. Crump continued, “If ever there was a time when nobody in America should be killed by police it was during this pinnacle trial of Derek Chauvin which I believe is one of the most impactful civil rights police excessive fuse of force cases in the history of America.” The families of George Floyd and Emmett Till were also in attendance at the news conference, along with prominent gun control advocates. Brooklyn Center police claim that Wright was stopped over his license tags, to which Crump said was a remnant of “driving while Black.” “We’re still in the midst of a pandemic where many people could not get the tags on their license plates renewed because the DMV, like everything in America was shut down,” said Crump. Police were told to be sensitive for this reason Crump explained, “But I guess when you’re driving while Black, people sometimes forget memos and initiatives about,” he continued. At the same time, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, who is African-American, held a dueling press conference where he announced the resignation of Kim Potter, the officer who fired the fatal shot, a the Brooklyn Center Police Chief.

Greene County Schools equip classrooms to protect returning students and staff

The Greene County School System resumed face-to-face instruction at its school facilities utilizing the Phase II Hybrid Plan, beginning Monday, April 5, 2021. As shown in photos, each student desk has a three-sided plexiglass shield and masks are required for students and all school personnel. According to Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, temperature checks are administered each morning automatically as students and staff enter the facility. Hand sanitizers are available in each classroom and throughout the facility. Air purifiers are installed in each classroom. Dr. Jones stated that he is very pleased with the conduct of students and staff on the first days back at the schools. “ I want to commend our students, teachers and staff for the outstanding cooperation they demonstrated on returning to the face-to-face academic program. Everyone wore their masks and were sensitive to keeping safe distances and just trying to keep each other safe,” he said. Superintendent Jones noted the on-site school enrollments for the initial day back: Eutaw Primary with 214 students; Robert Brown Middle School with 220 students and Greene County High School with 125 students. Virtual classes are still available. Students who are returning to on-site classes are scheduled by the beginning letter of the last name. Students with last names A to M will attend classes on Monday and Tuesday; students with last names N to Z will attend classes Wednesday and Thursday. All academic programs are virtual on Fridays.

One quarter of Greene County’s adults have received one vaccination

Vaccination at Greenetrack parking lot conducted by the National Guard

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), 25% or more of Greene county’s adults, over the age of 16 have received one or more doses of coronavirus vaccine. The ADPH Coronavirus Dashboard, on the state’s website, shows that as of March 30, 2021 there were 2,927 does of vaccine administered to Greene County adults. This includes 2,081 who received one shot and 874 who are fully vaccinated with two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. In a press release yesterday, the ADPH says 25% of adult residents of 35 Alabama counties including: Greene, Marengo, Hale, Wilcox, Perry, Lowndes, Dallas, Sumter, Choctaw, Monroe, Washington, Macon and Bullock in the Black Belt, have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. Last Wednesday, March 24, a total of 396 people were vaccinated at the Health Department in downtown Eutaw and a special vaccination site administered by the National Guard at the Greenetrack parking lot. In all, the National Guard has administered 3,738 shots in 24 Alabama rural counties as part of a targeted effort that began last week. The ADPH says in its press release that, “Successful public health efforts to achieve vaccine equity have resulted in higher vaccine uptake among African American residents of Black Belt counties.” This comes after an initial period where immunization of African-Americans, who are more vulnerable to the disease, lagged behind in vaccinations. 64% of the most vulnerable populations above the age of 75 have received one dose or more in Alabama as of yesterday. ADPH says. “People in this age group are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. As we age, our immune cells become more difficult to activate. ADPH maximized our limited vaccine resources to help protect these Alabama residents. Regrettably, 78.8 percent of Alabamians who have died due to COVID-19 are age 65 and older. Vulnerable older residents have been prioritized in our Vaccine Allocation Plan for that reason.” ADPH says that supply remains an issue, as there is not yet enough vaccine available for everyone who would like to be vaccinated. The state continues to receive more vaccine distribution from the Federal government and hopes to make shots available to all who want the by the end of April 2021. ADPH encourages the use of facial coverings after the state mandate ends on April 9, 2021. Masks or other facial coverings will no longer be a mandate after April 9, but ADPH reminds everyone that masks remain one of the most successful tools to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Many businesses and healthcare facilities will continue to require facial coverings in their facilities. Hospitals and nursing homes are under federal guidance that supports the use of facial coverings, and we anticipate the requirement for facial coverings to remain in place at those facilities.

Newswire: Day 2 of Chauvin trial was rife with emotional witness testimony

Former Officer Chauvin has knee on George Floyd’s neck

 By:  Paige Elliott, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

The second day of the Derek Chauvin murder trial was full of emotional and heart-wrenching witness testimony. Witness after witness spoke of the despair, helplessness, and the struggle to come to grips with what they witnessed when George Floyd lost his life under the knee of Chauvin on March 25, 2020. In agonizing detail, the witnesses, many of whom are underage and therefore not shown on video by court order, described how heartbroken and haunted they remain over Floyd’s killing almost a year ago. Donald Williams continued his testimony from the opening day of the trial. The prosecution walked Williams through what he witnessed on Memorial Day when he stumbled upon the scene of Floyd’s fatal arrest while headed to Cup Foods. It was revealed on Tuesday that Williams, like 911 operator Jenna Scurry who testified the day before, “called the police on the police.” After Floyd was taken away in an ambulance, an emotional Williams called 911 to report the incident. “I believe I had just witnessed a murder,” Williams recalled. Williams added that he placed the call because he “didn’t know what else to do,” as he couldn’t establish a human connection—what he termed as a “human being relationship”—with the police on the scene, so he reached out for help. Tears streamed down his face when his call was played in the courtroom. Defense attorney Eric Nelson spent a lot of time trying to undercut Williams’ experience and knowledge as a mixed martial arts fighter and former wrestler. However, Williams was not on the stand as an expert. As legal analyst Laura Coates said on CNN, “They’re attacking the very idea that he [Williams] was never there to present.”  Williams also rejected the idea presented by the defense that the bystanders grew into an angry mob as time wore on. “I grew professional. I stayed in my body. You can’t paint me out to be angry,” he said. Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. Attorney, and legal analyst told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the defense’s cross-examinations of the witnesses so far was “mediocre” because it has taken Nelson “a very long time to make minor points. The best cross-examinations are short and simple,” he said. “And so far, from what I’ve seen from the defense, the cross-examinations have not been short and have not been simple.” Darnella Frazier, 18, was the second witness to take the stand on Tuesday. As a minor at the time of Floyd’s death, her face was not shown on camera, though the court has allowed her last name to be printed. Though unseen, Frazier’s voice effectively conveyed her pain. At times she spoke in hushed tones, with her voice breaking.  We learned that Frazier was on her way to Cup Foods with her young cousin, but like Williams, she never made it into the store. Instead, she escorted in her cousin so she wouldn’t witness what was happening between Floyd and the police officers outside. Frazier stayed outside and eventually took out her camera and began recording—her video of the incident is what was initially posted on social media and sparked the national and international outcry against Floyd’s killing. Frazier, though emotional, was consistent on the witness stand. She recalled Floyd stating, “I can’t breathe; please get off of me,’” while he lay handcuffed in the prone position under Chauvin’s knee. “He cried for his mom. He was in pain,” said Frazier. “He seemed like he felt it was over for him. He was suffering. It was a cry for help.” She recalled the bystanders saying to Chauvin: “You’re hurting him,” “Are you enjoying this?” “His nose is bleeding,” and “You’re a bum. She said she didn’t recall Chauvin offering any “care” for Floyd at any time she was there. “If anything,” she said, “he was actually kneeling harder. He was shoving his knee in his neck. I felt like he was feeding off of our energy.” Like Williams, Frazier countered the defense’s claim that the crowd was hostile. “Any time someone tried to get close, they [the cops] were defensive, so we couldn’t even get close,” Frazier said. She pointedly noted that the only violence she saw that day was from the police officers, and that Chauvin “had a cold look, heartless. It seemed like he didn’t care.“ When the paramedics arrived, Frazier said Chauvin still didn’t release his knee from Floyd’s neck. “No, the ambulance person had to get him to lift up. He checked his pulse first while Mr. Chauvin’s knee still remained on George Floyd’s neck. The paramedic made a motion to get up,” she recalled. The defense’s line of questioning centered on Frazier having limited knowledge of what else had occurred prior to her arriving and what else may have been going on in the surrounding area at the time. Inexplicably, the defense asked if the video she recorded changed Frazier’s life. She replied that it had. This left the door open for the prosecution to redirect and ask Frazier to explain how the video changed her life. She replied, “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, my cousins, and uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black father; I have a Black brother … I look at how that could have been them.” She continued, “I stay up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and for not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it’s not what I should have done, it’s what he [Chauvin] should have done,” she said through tears. It was the most emotional moment of the trial thus far and widely seen as a misstep by the defense. “The lesson here,” said Rosenberg about the defense’s line of questioning, “unless you really have something to add by opening your mouth and talking in court, sit down and be quiet.” Frazier’s nine-year-old cousin took the stand next; she capped an emotional first half of the afternoon before recess. She was seen in surveillance video with the word “love” on her shirt, but what she witnessed at her tender age was anything but.  She gave a brief testimony describing what she saw that day and how it made her “sad and kinda mad” because she felt the cops were stopping Floyd’s breathing and hurting him. She also recalled how a paramedic had to ask Chauvin to release his knee from Floyd’s neck.  The defense did not cross-examine her. Two other underage witnesses took the stand, including Kaylynn Ashley Gilbert, 19, who was on her way to Cup Foods to buy a phone charger. She ended up joining the bystanders and taking phone footage of Floyd’s death. She teared up on the witness stand and said she felt like she “failed” Floyd because the police preventing her from helping him. The day closed with moving and at times pointed testimony from Genevieve Hansen, 27, a firefighter and certified EMT worker who was out walking when the commotion on the corner of 38th St. & Chicago Avenue caught her attention. She said she heard someone say, “They’re killing him” and walked over to see what was going on.  She was immediately alarmed by what she saw. “I was concerned to see a handcuffed man who was not moving with officers with their whole body weight on his back and a crowd that was stressed out,” she recalled. Hansen wanted to render medical aid to Floyd. “I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities,” Hansen said, “and this human was denied that right.” She, like two other witnesses, also called 911 to report what she saw.  Hansen and Nelson had a few heated exchanges when Nelson tried to paint the bystanders as an angry mob. Hansen said she was more desperate than angry. “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting,” she said. Judge Peter Cahill struck her comment from the record.

COVID -19

As of March 23, 2021 at 10:00 AM (according to Alabama Political Reporter) Alabama had 511,789 confirmed cases of coronavirus, (2,313) more than last week with 10,450 deaths (87) more than last week) Greene County had 899 confirmed cases, (8 more cases than last week), with 33 deaths Sumter Co. had 1,024 cases with 32 deaths Hale Co. had 2,149 cases with 72 deaths

Eutaw City Council approves budget but tables most other items until IRS lien can be resolved

The Eutaw City Council met twice in March on the ninth and twenty-third to consider a similar agenda. The Council approved the latest version of a budget, prepared by Financial Consultant, Ralph Liverman, paid essential bills but did not approve other new purchases and initiatives pending a resolution of an outstanding problem with IRS. The Council approved the fifth version of a budget submitted by its special financial adviser, Ralph Liverman. The budget, which includes $3.5 million in projected revenues and $3.2 million in projected expenses was prepared using the best data available from past and current operations. The budget is divided into seven funds based on revenue streams. The budget includes: General Fund Administration, General Fund Police, General Fund Street and Sanitation, General Fund Debt Service, Water and Sewer Fund, 7-Cent Gas Tax Fund, 4-Cent Gas Tax Fund, Special Street Fund, and Capital Improvements Fund. “We have an approved budget for the city, which is a plan that can be amended and changed as we learn more about our finances and critical needs. We also have an accountant doing an audit for us for the past three years – 2018, 2019 and 2020, which helps us to know where we stand and allows us to apply for new grants,” said Mayor Latasha Johnson. The Council requested an update on the situation with IRS from Kathy Bir, the City Clerk. Ms. Bir did not have a report at first but went to get copies of correspondence from her office. She said that she had been overwhelmed with other work priorities like payroll and also had been sick. Mayor Johnson said, “We have been very lenient on this but we have been asking for this information on IRS for five months.”The problem with IRS has two parts. IRS filed a lien against the City for unpaid Employee taxes during the past administration of Mayor Raymond Steele. There also is a second problem with a report filed by Ms. Bir, which was incorrect because the wrong figures were placed on the wrong lines of a quarterly earnings report filed with IRS. This report and problem have been corrected by Ms. Bir but no confirmation of the correction has been received from IRS by the City. The City owes IRS for these problems that are accumulating interest and penalties as long as they are unresolved. The Council expressed concern that they cannot move forward with other new purchases, such as needed police cars and a GIS mapping of city utilities, until the issues with IRS are clarified and a payment plan developed for the outstanding amount owed to IRS. Mayor Johnson said, that with the help of Ralph Liverman, she had written a letter to IRS to get a clear statement of the amount owed and the reasons for the debt. “We have not received an answer to our letter yet, so we will need to keep following up because we need results and not excuses to resolve this problem,” said Mayor Johnson. The Council agreed to pay outstanding bills for routine business but tabled action on most new expenses. In the March 9th meeting, the Council approved payment of $8,950 to Layne Christensen Company and $24,000 for payment to Sheppard Services LLC for repairs and replacement of well pumps for the water system. In response to requests from City Engineer Babbs, the Council approved joining the 811 Alabama Location Center, to get advanced notice of new construction affecting underground utility lines. The cost of this membership is $520 per year. The Council tabled Babbs request for a GIS Mapping System ($40,000) of the streets and utility lines needed for future grant requests for maintenance and repair, until the IRS claims can be resolved. The Council also tabled requests for new police vehicles, a SCADA and Telemetry system for the City water system, purchase of tractors and street improvement equipment and approval of the Utility Operations Policy and Procedures Manual until the IRS issues are resolved. The Council did approve $5,000 for upgrading the computers, networking and telephone system at City Hall, which will provide answering services and other improvements to the system. It approved arrangements for on-line payment of utility bills using debit, credit cards and other forms of non-cash payment. The Council approved entering into an agreement with Community Services of West Alabama for the payment of utility bills to help low-income residents. The Council also approved a contract with Jordan Vending Services for the placement of vending machines for water and Gatorade at the Robert H. Young Community Center (old Carver Elementary School). They also approved a timeclock for employees that will be coordinated with the ADT payroll service to provide more accurate records of hours worked by the city’s staff. The Mayor asked Terry Tyson to report on his audit of the city water meters. Terry has visited 753 water meters, about half of the meters. He has found problems with meters installed incorrectly, meter id numbers not correctly matched to the billing system, and some meters not included in the billing system. He plans to visit all of the meters and correct the problems as part of his agreement with the City. The Mayor and City Council noted that storm shelters are needed for Branch Heights, National Guard Armory and Carver School and Community Center. The Mayor said that she was working out the details on locating and constructing these shelters.

Bingo distribution for February totals $485,963.85, with additional $71,000 from Greenetrack

On Tuesday March 23, 2021, Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $485,963.85 for the month of February from four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county.  The bingo distributions were contributed by Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace and Bama Bingo. Greenetrack distributed an additional $71,000.   The recipients of the February distributions from bingo gaming include the Greene County Commission, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).

Sub charities include Children’s Policy Council, Guadalupan Multicultural Services, Greene County Golf Course, Branch Heights Housing Authority, Department of Human Resources and the Greene County Library. Bama Bingo gave a total of $114,994.98 to the following: Greene County Commission, $30,570; Greene County Sheriff’s $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500, and the Greene County Health System,  $12,500. Sub Charities, each received $1,133.33. Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $114,990.00 to the following: Greene County Commission, $30,570; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board  of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,132.50. River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $114,994.98 to the following:  Greene County Commission, $30,570; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee  each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,333.33. Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $140,983.89 to the following: Greene County Commission, $37,478.82; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $41,377.50; City of Eutaw, $11,340.50; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,750.75; Greene County Board of Education, $12,873 and the Greene County Health System, $15,325; Sub Charities each, 1,389.47. On Tuesday March 23, 2021, Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $485,963.85 for the month of February from four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county.  The bingo distributions were contributed by Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace and Bama Bingo. Greenetrack distributed an additional $71,000.   The recipients of the February distributions from bingo gaming include the Greene County Commission, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).

Newswire: House passes sweeping police reform named after ‘George Floyd’, but will it pass the Senate? 

George Floyd

By Jane Kennedy

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Only those with the hardest of hearts will ever forget the dying words of George Floyd, a Black man who gasped, “I can’t breathe!” as a white Minneapolis police officer literally choked him to death. The horrific incident, which was captured in video, set off a season of protests across the United States and the globe and a national reckoning of the racial and criminal injustice that have plagued African Americans for generations. In a late-night session on March 3, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, largely along party lines and with just one vote by a Republican, Texas Rep. Lance Gooden, who later said in a since-deleted tweet that it was an accident and he had pressed the wrong button. This landmark, wide-ranging police reform legislation has received broad support from a wide variety of civil rights organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the National Urban League, the National Action Network, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and several other civil and human rights groups. “Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), who authored the bill, said in a statement. “Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota.” Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis, Minn. officer responsible for Floyd’s death, was fired and will soon be tried on a third-degree murder charge. Jury selection was beginning this week. The bill, which must be signed by President Biden before it becomes law, aims to end racial profiling, change the culture of the nation’s police departments, build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve—and save lives. The bill – if passed by the Senate and signed by the President, would: • Prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling. • Mandate training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement. • Require law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. • Ban chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds. • Ban no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level. • Require that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first. Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.” • Limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement. • Require federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras. • Require marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras. • Make it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard. • Enable individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement. The Justice in Policing Act also establishes public safety innovation grants that community-based organizations can use to create local commissions and task forces to develop equitable public safety approaches, much like former President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In addition, it requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations. “This represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of color and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of color,” said civil rights attorneys, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, on behalf of the Floyd family in a statement. Civil rights leaders are ecstatic over the bill’s passage but may soon find they will have to temper both their enthusiasm and expectations. The House passed a similar bill last year, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell buried it in what came to be referred to as his “legislative graveyard.” In a CNN interview last week, Bass said that she has been in talks with Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) for several weeks, and current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will likely put some version of the bill on the floor for consideration and a vote. But first, obstacles will have to be overcome. Although Democrats now control the Senate, with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, some Democrats may require some convincing and 10 Republican votes also will be needed for passage. Senate Republicans have claimed that the House bill puts police officers in danger and makes communities less safe. They also object to the provision that eliminates qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards, the major sticking point that they believe would subject law enforcement officers to excessive litigation. But Democrats argue it is needed to hold police accountable for unnecessary use of deadly force. That’s a red line for me, Scott told the Associated Press. “Hopefully we’ll come up with something that actually works.”