As I’m sure you’ve all heard, House Democrats have introduced a policing reform bill this week in the wake of George Floyd’s murder: HR 7120 the Justice in Policing Act. Predictably, many high-profile Republicans are already declaring this bill DOA, yet more than ever there are others who have indicated their willingness to work on this issue with Democrats. Now is the time to put the pressure on.
The bill has a mark-up in the House Judiciary Committee today, with a goal of bringing it before the entire chamber by the end of the month.
Here are a handful of things in the bill, according to Politico
- ban chokeholds
- lower the federal threshold for when police officers can be charged with using excessive force
- limit “qualified immunity”
- create a National Police Misconduct Registry,
- end racial profiling
- bar the use of “no-knock” arrest warrants in drug cases
- develop a national standard on using force
- limit the transfer of military equipment to police departments
- make lynching a federal crime.
- make it easier to sue police officers who unjustly injure or kill citizens
Notably this bill does not include any moves to “defund” the police by limiting or eliminating Federal funding going to municipal departments.
If you have a Rep in the House Judiciary Committee, ESPECIALLY if they’re Republican, they should hear from you! You can contact the committee in general at the link above. You can also contact its members individually even if they’re not your own Rep.
Contact your own Rep and Senators, especially if they’re Republican, and tell them that when this bill gets to the House floor you expect their support.
If you’re on the fence about police reform:
Many of us are brand new to racial justice work. Like me, I’m sure many of you have offered quiet support in your minds and among your friends, but when it comes to getting really truly involved you hear “defund the police” and you think “nope, that’s too extreme for me.” Here are some resources and organizations I’ve found monumentally helpful in wrapping my head around the demands of the movement, why these things really are necessary, and how to be a better ally.
SURJ: White Supremacy Culture
Dismantle Collective: White Allyship
Vox: What it means to be anti-racist
MPD150: Articles on abolitionism and policing alternatives
I’d also really recommend getting registering for one of SURJ’s (Showing Up for Racial Justice) amazing webinars, which can be found here.