The stunning legislative failure that was Congress’ inability to pass a police reform bill that Joe Biden touted as one of his main presidential campaign promises has evoked further skepticism that the myriad problems in law enforcement can be fixed, let alone ever get properly addressed.
But perhaps no one was left wanting more than the family of George Floyd, whose murder became a rallying call for police reform in America as House Democrats introduced a bill bearing his name that aimed to hold members of law enforcement accountable for their actions.
Now, more than a week after lawmakers admitted that they were back to Square 1 because the Senate couldn’t bring themselves to advance the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Floyd’s sister is speaking in no uncertain terms about who she thinks could have and should have done much more to make sure new police reform laws were on the books sooner rather than much later.
Bridgett Floyd said this week that she’s beyond being mad about the failure of police reform.
“I’m past upset,” Bridgett Floyd told CNN in a recent interview. “I’m past angry.”
When prompted to expound upon her anger, Bridgett Floyd said she held the president responsible for not making good on a campaign promise that was a major part of his candidacy.
“Deep down in my gut I had a feeling that this was going to happen,” Bridgett Floyd said about Congress dropping the ball on police reform. “People are out here in desperate need (for police reform) and I don’t feel that Biden is stepping up as the President and doing the right thing.”
Up until now, the bulk of the blame for police reform not happening had been aimed at Tim Scott, the only Black Republican senator who was tasked with working with two Black Democrats — Rep. Karen Bass and Sen. Cory Booker — to negotiate the terms of what police reform would look like.
Scott was against ending qualified immunity, a deal-ending policy that shields police officers from legal accountability. Months later, it was announced last week that police reform would have to wait until the next legislative calendar to be reintroduced.
Scott blamed police reform failing because, he said, Democrats wanted to “defund the police.” However, a joint statement from the National Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police — two of the nation’s largest police unions — suggested Scott was lying and said the “defund” language was not in the bill.
“Despite some media reports, at no point did any legislative draft propose ‘defunding the police,’” the statement, released Tuesday, said in part.
Booker called Scott’s revisionist history “unfortunate” but didn’t offer a forceful rebuke, even after Scott doubled-down on his “defund” argument and suggested Booker couldn’t read the legislation that he himself helped draft.
Biden gave Congress a deadline of May 25 — the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder — to reach a deal on police reform. But weeks ahead of that anniversary, Scott blamed the bill’s inclusion of ending qualified immunity for officers as a reason why he couldn’t lend his support. Scott wants to see police departments take more responsibility without holding individual officers accountable, as eliminating qualified immunity would make it easier to sue individual officers.
The House passed the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act back in March, advancing it to the Senate, where it ultimately died.
If it had passed in the Senate and been enacted, the law would have been the first-ever bold, comprehensive law enforcement accountability and transparency legislation. Some of the notable portions of the bill included redefining malleable legal terms that impede the successful prosecution of killer cops as well as not offering any new federal funding for police departments.
Perhaps most significantly, the bill aims to hold police accountable by collecting data about officers accused of misconduct and worse behavior. It would establish a national registry that would attempt to address loopholes that allow cops who have been fired from one department to be hired by another.
There are other pertinent provisions the Justice in Policing Act covers, as well, including mandating the use of body cameras and dashboard cameras.
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