For the past week, thousands of people have marched in the streets to stand against racial violence and police brutality in light of the recent deaths of multiple unarmed black people, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of law enforcement officials. In response, Democrats are taking action by introducing a new piece of legislation that would completely overhaul policing in the United States.
The Justice In Policing Act would allow for the use of force only as a last resort, ban chokeholds, prohibit racial and religious profiling, and make it easier to hold police accountable for misconduct, among other dramatic changes.
“The bill introduced today takes significant steps to protect people and ensure accountability against police violence. But the legislation also provides hundreds of millions more to law enforcement, and for the ACLU, that’s a nonstarter. While many of the reforms in this bill are laudable and vital, more must be done to change the role of police in our society fundamentally,” said Kanya Bennett, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union in a press statement.
“There can be no more Band-Aid or temporary fixes when it comes to policing, which is why we are calling for divestment from law enforcement agencies and reinvestment into the Black and Brown communities that have been harmed by over policing and mass incarceration. The role of police has to be smaller, more circumscribed, and less funded with taxpayer dollars.”
According to NPR, the House of Representatives is expected to spend most of June working on the measure. Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., called it a “transformative vision of policing in America.”
“Raising the standards, having national certification and raising the level of policing in the United States so that it is like many other professions,” Bass described in NPR. “The profession that has the power to kill should be a profession that has national standards, is transparent and is accountable to the public.”
Senator Kamala Haris has also come out in support of the bill in a conference with Democrats to unveil the new bill.
“We’re here because Black Americans want to stop being killed. Just last week, we couldn’t even pass an anti-lynching bill in the United States Senate,” said Harris in the video.
“So, when we look at where we are now with this piece of legislation, we have to understand. Yes, as a country, we’ve seen great progress. But just last week in the year of our Lord 2020, we could not get an anti-lynching bill passed in the United States Senate.”