Once again, the United States has found itself at a transformative historic moment, and once again the Democratic Party has proven itself to be the only political body prepared to show leadership and take the initiative for lasting change.
While Republican Party leader Donald Trump spent his Monday morning on Twitter mocking one of his own Senators for simply saying “Black Lives Matter,” Democratic Party leaders began their day by holding an eight-minute and forty-six second moment of silence in the Capitol building, grimly marking every second of George Floyd’s suffocation by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Then they got to work.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Democratic leadership unveiled the Justice In Policing Act of 2020, a sweeping legislation package of police reform and accountability policies aimed at directly combating the appalling police brutality that America’s police forces have been inflicting on its citizens for so many decades.
ABC News reports that “the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would limit qualified immunity protections, create a national police misconduct registry, ban chokeholds, restrict the transfer of military-grade equipment to police departments and make lynching a federal crime, among other provisions, according to a section-by-section summary of the proposal sent to Democratic offices Friday night and obtained by ABC News. Democrats are still finalizing the proposal ahead of its formal release next week.”
The legislation would take the unprecedented step of creating a federal registry of law enforcement at all levels in order to create a record of misconduct complaints, disciplinary infractions, and termination in order to stop bloodthirsty cops like Derek Chauvin, who had shot and killed two people prior to murdering George Floyd.
“We cannot settle for anything less than transformative, structural change,” declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proudly proclaimed that “this has never been done before at the federal level” and warned his Republican counterparts that though they may hope for the issue would just go away, “I promise them, it will not.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "The martyrdom of George Floyd gave American experience a moment of national anguish as we grieve for the Black Americans killed by police brutality. Today, this moment of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action" pic.twitter.com/xu22quQaHQ
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 8, 2020
“While there is no single policy prescription that will erase the decades of systemic racism and excessive policing – it’s time we create structural change with meaningful reforms,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA).
It remains unclear whether or not these steps will be considered adequate to the protesters, segments of which are pushing for full police abolishment or at the very least massive funding cuts to our nation’s gluttonous police forces.
But after considering what is politically feasible with a Republican-strangled Senate and a White House that will gleefully veto anything passed by Democrats out of sheer spite, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 represents a huge and long overdue step towards reigning in the terrifying and unrepentantly authoritarian power of America’s police.
While Republicans vacillate between finger-wagging at the protesters for vandalism and arguing that Derek Chauvin didn’t do anything wrong, it’s reassuring to see at least half of America’s political establishment willing to put their words into action and take the initiative to rectify decades of monstrous injustice.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.