House Democrats & The Congressional Black Caucus Unveil Police Reform Bill

#DefundThePolice is gaining traction in some cities.

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(AllHipHop News) The #BlackLivesMatter protest continues to take place around the world. Demonstrators are not letting up two weeks after the movement was reignited when Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd on camera by pressing his knee into the prone African-American man’s neck for almost nine minutes.

While thousands of people are in the streets, activists are calling on politicians to implement policies to reform the culture of the nation’s law enforcement and shift taxpayers’ money from militarizing the police to investing in social services. There have been some changes already being proposed in certain municipalities.

The Minneapolis city council voted to disband the city’s police department. Los Angeles officials announced $100 million-$150 million of cuts to the police department budget in order to reinvest in black communities and communities of color. New York City is considering cutting $1 billion from the NYPD’s $6 billion budget.

However, some police reform advocates are looking for significant changes at the federal level as well. On Monday, Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Congressional Black Caucus presented the 136-page Justice in Policing Act of 2020. The legislation currently has the support of 166 Representatives and 35 Senators.

“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 woman’s killing at the hands of the very police who are sworn to protect and serve them?” says California Senator Kamala Harris.

She continues, “As a career prosecutor and former Attorney General of California, I know that real public safety requires community trust and police accountability. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this historic legislation that will get our country on a path forward.” 

“America has a serious and deadly problem when it comes to the discriminatory and excessive policing of communities of color – and that policing exists within a system that time and again refuses to hold police accountable for their brutality,” says New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. “For too long, this has been accepted as a cruel reality of being black in this country. We are forced to figure out how to keep ourselves safe from law enforcement and we are viewed as a threat to be protected against instead of people worth protecting. And for too long, Congress has failed to act.”

Booker adds, “That ends today with the landmark Justice in Policing Act which, for the first time in history, will take a comprehensive approach to ending police brutality. On the back-end, the bill fixes our federal laws so law enforcement officers are held accountable for egregious misconduct and police abuses are better tracked and reported. And on the front-end, the bill improves police practices and training to prevent these injustices from happening in the first place.”

According to reports, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 makes it easier to prosecute police officers for misconduct in civil court, declares lynching a federal crime, limits the sale of military weapons to the police, and gives the Department of Justice the authority to investigate state and local police for evidence of department-wide bias or misconduct.

The announcement of the JPA legislation was overshadowed by the optics of Democratic lawmakers wearing kente cloth stoles and taking a knee at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall in honor of George Floyd. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and others were criticized for being performative and pandering to black voters.  

Presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden stated he does not support defunding the police as a method to redirect money from law enforcement to community-based initiatives. The former Vice-President said, “I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness. And, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.”

After his administration dismantled federal tools used to hold police departments accountable, President Donald Trump has yet to offer any police reform policy changes even as anti-police brutality protests have taken place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and Guam. Republican Senator Mitt Romney is said to be working on a bipartisan police reform bill.