Frustration and disappointment set in after Democrat and Republican lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on a long-awaited police reform bill, which was spurred by the death of George Floyd and many other Black people at the hands of law enforcement.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was intended to disrupt police practices that have in part led to the tragic deaths of people of color, and was believed to be a strong driver behind support for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris by African Americans in the 2020 election. But the collapse of the negotiations is a blow to the administration, which committed to make police reform a priority, and it leaves supporters wondering how effective the Biden/Harris administration can ultimately be in delivering upon its campaign and later promises.
“We are incredibly disappointed and dismayed that the United States Senate was unable to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” said Jacari Harris, executive director of the George Floyd Memorial Foundation in a statement “When the House passed the bill back in March, we were cautiously optimistic that the Senate would honor the will of the people, but that was not to be as yet.”
Benjamin Crump, lead attorney for Floyd’s family, who stood with them through the trial of former Minneapolis policeman Derk Chauvin, who was convicted in his murder, also expressed his disappointment.
“We cannot let this be a tragic, lost opportunity to regain trust between citizens and police,” Crump said in a statement, along with fellow attorney Antonio Ramanucci. “We strongly urge Democratic senators to bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to the floor for a vote so Americans can see who is looking out for their communities’ best interests and who is ready to listen to their constituents so we can together put the country on a better, more equitable path for all.”
The two parties were not able to agree to changes pertaining to demands on how police should interact with the public. According to CBS News, an offer made by Democrats Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Karen Bass to Republican Sen. Team Scott, proposed the adoption of a Trump administration executive order that would bring in national accreditation standards, a chokehold and no-knock warrant ban, limits on transfers of military equipment to police departments and a complaint database.
“The effort from the very beginning was to get police reform that would raise professional standards, police reform that would create a lot more transparency, and then police reform that would create accountability, and we’re not able to come to agreements on those three big areas,” said Booker, according to CBS News.
Scott, however, blamed Democrats for stalling the bill until talks over them finally collapsed.
“After months of making progress, I am deeply disappointed that Democrats have once again squandered a crucial opportunity to implement meaningful reform to make our neighborhoods safer and mend the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and communities of color,” Scott wrote in a statement. “Crime will continue to increase while safety decreases, and more officers are going to walk away from the force because my negotiating partners walked away from the table.”
That the measure did not get any further than negotiations between the two parties angered many, including NAACP president Derrick Johnson, who blasted the outcome.
“In a year unlike any other, when the American people spoke up, marched, and demanded reforms in policing, law enforcement unions and partisan politicians chose to stand on the wrong side of history,” said Johnson in a press release. “They have chosen to stand with those who have lynched the very people they are meant to protect and serve.”
Others with an interest in seeing the bill become successful expressed their disappointment as well but said they were determined to achieve the police reform sought in the legislation.
Meanwhile, President Biden says he will look at possible executive actions to make police reform a reality, and he criticized the GOP for the bill’s failure.
“Regrettably, Senate Republicans rejected enacting modest reforms, which even the previous president had supported, while refusing to take action on key issues that many in law enforcement were willing to address,” Biden said in a White House press statement. “The White House will continue to consult with the civil rights and law enforcement communities, as well as victims’ families to define a path forward, including through potential further executive actions I can take to advance our efforts to live up to the American ideal of equal justice under law.”