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The George Floyd bill offers justice for Black America

The George Floyd bill offers justice for Black America
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On Tuesday, March 3, the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

The bill is aimed at reimagining and improving the profession of policing and its main goal is to hold police, sheriffs and federal law enforcement accountable to the people they swear an oath. 

This vital piece of legislation, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by President BidenJoe BidenFauci says school should be open 'full blast' five days a week in the fall Overnight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart MORE, would be the first step towards building a trust that has never existed between law enforcement and communities of color by addressing systemic racism. This long overdue reform came to the forefront of American social and political life last summer when the killing of Black Americans came to an all time high — one of the most brutal cases being the namesake of this bill, George Floyd

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Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who murdered Floyd, is facing second-degree murder as well as a second-degree manslaughter charge. This case and legislation have been highlighted as the breaking point, not just for the Black community but for millions of Americans that since Floyd’s death have consistently called for systematic change by protesting all across the country.  

For the first time since the civil rights movement Americans of all backgrounds have been reintroduced  — and some for the first time — to anti-racism. Also, now that there has been a change in administrations and more power has been granted to the Democratic Party in Congress — thanks to the unprecedented votes from the Black community — the pressure for police reform is on.

For decades the Democratic Party has taken the Black community and its needs for granted, celebrating its advancements during the civil rights movement without delivering true systematic changes since. Election cycle after election cycle, national and state Democrats accept the power delivered by the Black vote, ignoring the urgency of now. For example, allowing for voting rights and protections to wither away, allowing quality education and health care to remain nonexistent and taking no action — only offering words — within the chambers of Congress to protect our people from the violence and over militarization of police.   

So, here and now, the trial of Chauvin and the bill that can prove the worth of Black life in America are on center stage. All of last week Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the lead House sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, has asked one key question “How many more videos of police violence do we need to see before we act?” This week the same question likely will be asked in the trial in Minnesota and on the floor of the Senate chamber. 

Biden has publicly supported the legislation but he has not used the power of his office to demonstrate the urgency of this legislation. Many advocates of the reform bill would like to see him formally encourage Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act like President Lyndon B. Johnson did for civil rights advancement, after pressure came from the leaders of the civil rights movement.

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As presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin shared earlier this year with Democratic strategist David AxelrodDavid AxelrodSally Yates: I never thought that I'd be saying, 'Yeah, go Liz Cheney' Symone Sanders 'hurt' at being passed over for press secretary: report Jen Psaki says the quiet part out loud about Joe Biden MORE on The Axe Files, Johnson knew he would alienate voters from the Democratic party in the South for a generation, but he believed the trade was necessary and worth it.

For now, the laws that protect law enforcement from being held accountable for taking a life or destroying property in the courts still stand. The discriminatory profiling, lack of data on investigatory data collection, the use of chokeholds, among other aggressive tactics that walk hand in hand with the over surveillance of Black neighborhoods will only perpetuate the murders of Black people by police officers.

If we truly want to see a change as a country, we, the people, must continue to apply pressure on our elected officials. 

Biden and the Democratic majority is the best chance for police reform to pass, but history tells us that without the right amount of pressure on an administration and congressional leaders change will never come.


Michael Deegan-McCree is a progressive strategist and a criminal justice reform advocate. He also serves on the Los Angeles Board for the New Leaders Council. Follow him on Twitter @mdmccreeCA.