Leaders of the nation’s most influential civil rights and social justice organizations held a media briefing on Wednesday to demand federal action to reform the nation’s police departments through passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Briefing participants included:
·Marc H. Morial, National Urban League President & CEO
·Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund President & Director-Counsel
·Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network President
·Melanie Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation President & CEO
·Wade Henderson, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Interim President & CEO
·Johnnetta Betsch Cole, National Council of Negro Women National Chair & President
·Derrick Johnson, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President & CEO
·Damon Hewitt, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Executive Vice President
According to Congress.gov, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R. 7120) addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It includes measures to increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct, to enhance transparency and data collection, and to eliminate discriminatory policing practices.
The bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep.Karen Bass (D-CA-37), facilitates federal enforcement of constitutional violations (e.g., excessive use of force) by state and local law enforcement. Among other things, it does the following:
- lowers the criminal intent standard—from willful to knowing or reckless—to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution,
- limits qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer or state correctional officer, and
- authorizes the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for a pattern or practice of discrimination.
The bill also creates a national registry—the National Police Misconduct Registry—to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct.
It establishes a framework to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state, and local levels.
The bill establishes new requirements for law enforcement officers and agencies, including to report data on use-of-force incidents, to obtain training on implicit bias and racial profiling, and to wear body cameras.