Congressmember Karen Bass has combatted police violence and abuse in Los Angeles for most of her adult life. In Congress, she authored the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act -- the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives.
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“Thirty years ago, Rodney King was brutally beaten by police. The video of the assault shocked the world, but not the jury, who let every single police officer responsible roam free.
“Thirty years ago today, Rodney King was viciously beaten by police officers in Los Angeles. It would be the first time the world would witness what African Americans had been organizing, marching and trying to change for more than 100 years. Personally, I was hopeful that once everyone saw what happens in Black communities, policing in America would change. I was certain no one would deny what they saw with their own eyes and the officers involved would be held accountable for their actions.
“I was wrong.
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The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 is a bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. Last Congress, the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act passed by a bipartisan vote of 236 to 181. Every House Democrat and three Republicans voted in support of the bill, including Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Will Hurd (R-TX).
“Just as the world watched the killing of George Floyd on video, the world watched the shooting of Jacob Blake on video. Officers are rarely charged when they kill or injure Black people because the bar for prosecuting officers is too high. A victim has to prove that the officer intended to harm or kill the person involved in the incident. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act lowers the bar of prosecution to recklessness.
The letter was also signed by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Congressman David Cicelline (D-RI).
The Members wrote, in part:
Senator Van Hollen and Representative Bass were joined on the call today by Clint Odom, Senior Vice President, Policy & Advocacy and Executive Director, Washington Bureau of the National Urban League; Kate Chatfield, Director of Policy for The Justice Collaborative; Erricka Bridgeford, Executive Director at the Baltimore Community Mediation Center and founder of the Baltimore Ceasefire movement; and Aaron Maybin, Maryland advocate and art activist.
“These charges are an affront to the movement for justice and peace in this country and conveys loud and clear that Breonna Taylor’s life does not matter to the legal system of the United States.
“Police officers are allowed to get away with the murder of unarmed Black people because the law doesn’t just allow it, the law ensures it and this cycle – the murder of an unarmed Black person, the outrage in the streets, the lack of action by our legal system – is doomed to repeat itself over and over again until we change those laws.