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Crump says Senate inaction ‘just as tragic’ as George Floyd’s death

Nearly two years after the murder of George Floyd, the lead attorney for his family, Ben Crump, said Monday the Senate’s inaction on police reform has been “just as tragic” as Floyd’s death.

Crump said the lack of reform on the congressional level guarantees that similar police brutality will continue.

“What they ensured with no federal reform is that we were going to see other acts of brutality against marginalized people by police over and over again with no responsive leadership to deter such,” Crump told The Washington Post’s Robert Samuels during a “Race in America” conversation on Floyd’s legacy.

Wednesday marks two years since Floyd’s death. Crump and co-counsel Antonio Romanucci said despite there being a greater awareness of police brutality against Black people, without meaningful reform, disproportionate killings will continue.

“It’s been two years and Black people still can’t breathe,” Crump said.

The attorneys said they and other advocates met privately with senators multiple times last year, but with each meeting, the optimism faded, according to Romanucci. By Labor Day, Romanucci said proponents felt promises had not been kept and there were too many hurdles.

“We kind of saw the writing on the wall,” Romanucci said.

Police reform came to a screeching halt in September due to deep divisions among a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers who pointed fingers at each other as reasons for the stall. 

The House has twice passed a sweeping bill named after Floyd, a Black man killed when a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The bill aimed to ban chokeholds and “no-knock” warrants at the federal level. It also attempted to overhaul qualified immunity for police officers and create a national police misconduct database.

But the bill faced opposition in the Senate when Democrats opposed a narrowed-down version by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C) and Republicans opposed changes to overhaul the legal shield for law enforcement officers.

Crump, however, lauded changes on the local level. He said more than 150 states or cities have banned chokeholds and more than 50 have banned no-knock warrants.

“You saw on the state and municipal level people trying to be responsive to what we have articulated for the world in the tragic killing of George Floyd,” Crump said.

These measures, as well as other localities requiring body cameras, are critical, but Romanucci said overall accountability is needed. That includes a national database to hold police accountable and prevent officers from moving to another jurisdiction after committing civil rights violations or using excessive force.

“The public needs to know about these sorts of issues and until we get that sort of accountability, that public transparency, we’re still going to struggle in this country because I haven’t seen enough of what should have happened since George Floyd,” Romanucci said.

A Minnesota Department of Human Rights report published last month found the Minneapolis Police Department, to which the three officers responsible for Floyd’s death belonged, showed a pattern and practice of racial discrimination toward Black and other marginalized communities.

“That’s only one of 18,000 police departments in this country, and if anybody believes that Minneapolis is the only racist police department in this country, then we need to have a talking to because there are many, many others,” Romanucci said.

Tags Ben Crump George Floyd George Floyd Tim Scott

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