Vice President Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks, at the White House in Washington, after former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. 20 Apr 2021 (Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock)

Following Derek Chauvin’s Guilty Verdict, Nation’s Top Black Women Political Leaders Push for Passage of ‘George Floyd Justice in Policing Act’

Following the justified and widely-celebrated guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, Black congressional leaders, including Representatives Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Karen Bass of California, Cori Bush of Missouri and Vice President Kamala Harris, renewed calls to further honor Floyd by pushing forward with the passage of the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”

Errin Haines and Amanda Becker of the nonprofit newsroom The 19th reported that following the verdict announcement, “the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, the first Black Lives Matter activist elected to Congress and the lead sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, standing with fellow CBC members and congressional leadership, spoke in front of the U.S Capitol in the wake of the jury decision, expressing relief and urging action.” 

“We are hopeful that today will be the catalyst to turn the pain, the agony, the justice delayed into actions that go far beyond today,” said Beatty. “We will continue to say all of the names. We will fight continuously for all those who died or who have been injured senselessly by law enforcement. Black lives matter. Justice matters.”

Bass said the verdict in the Floyd case could ultimately help transform policing in America for the better. “For a moment, we have a little bit of relief,” she said. “In my opinion, this is the human rights issue in the United States of America. Today just marks the beginning of a new phase in a long struggle to bring justice.”

“All we’re doing is saying our lives matter. We want our children to grow up, we want to survive, we want to have the same quality of life as other folks get,” Bush said. “Justice for us is saving lives. As an activist, as a legislator, that’s the work.”

Harris watched the announcement of the trial’s verdict along with President Biden from the White House and spoke about the case afterward, expressing how close she felt to the case and how pleased she was with its outcome.

“The daughter of civil rights activists and a former prosecutor who co-sponsored the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as a U.S. senator last summer, [Harris] said racial injustice is an American problem that ‘is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential,’” Haines and Becker reported.

“A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer, and the fact is we still have work to do,” Vice President Harris said. “We still must reform the system. We are all part of George Floyd’s legacy, and our job now is to honor it and to honor him.”   

Originally introduced to the House in summer 2020, where it passed easily, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act includes a number of anti-racist reform policies. Haines and Becker reported that “the bill would prohibit discriminatory profiling, mandate training, ban chokeholds, prohibit no-knock warrants, require the use of body cameras by officers and allow individuals to recover civil damages when a law enforcement officer is found to have violated their constitutional rights.” 

After passing in the House last year, the bill languished in the then-Republican-controlled Senate and never put up for a floor vote. When Bass reintroduced the bill to the House in February 2021, it was approved for a second time, but even with Democrats in control of the Senate this time around, pundits still worry the bill won’t have enough votes to pass and could be challenged with a filibuster.

“History will look back at this moment and see it as an inflection moment,” Harris said after Chauvin’s verdict was announced. “America has a long history of systemic racism. Black Americans and Black men, in particular, have been treated as less than human. Because of smartphones, so many Americans have now seen the racial injustice that Black Americans have known for generations.”

Pressing the Senate to take up the Policing Reform Act and put it to a vote on the floor, Harris expressed hope for the positive changes it could help to bring about if passed, calling it “not a panacea but a start” and something that is “long overdue.”

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

Latest News

woke politics

Republicans Launch a War on ‘Woke’ Politics in Hopes of Big Legislative Wins in 2022

In 2020, former President Barack Obama warned that the phrase “Defund the Police” could become a dangerous rallying cry for the conservative right. But now, Republicans have apparently taken that warning one step further, declaring war on all things “woke.” Allan Smith and Sahil Kapur of NBC News wrote that…

women in politics

Women Remain Vastly Underrepresented in Local Government, Despite Conventional Wisdom Suggesting Otherwise

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind President Biden during his first speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — representing the first time two women held such important and high-ranking political offices. Even after such a historic moment, the reality…

voter restriction

Florida Follows Georgia’s Lead, Approves Racist Anti-Voter Restrictions Aimed Primarily at Democrats and People of Color

Not content with letting Georgia be the only state in the South demonized for its bigoted and racist attacks on voter rights, Florida has jumped into the fray in issuing its own series of new and highly controversial “Jim Crow-esque” anti-voting restrictions aimed specifically at disenfranchising Democrats and voters of…

Kentucky Derby

Inspired by Protests Over Breonna Taylor’s Death, Humana and Kentucky Derby Festival Launch Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Louisville

Ahead of the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby officials and Humana (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020) have announced a new equity initiative meant to make the race more accessible and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age…

crimes against human ity

‘Crime Against Humanity’; Global Report Says the US Should Be Prosecuted in International Criminal Court for Ongoing Police Murders of Black Americans

In what has been described as a “devastating” report, human rights experts and lawyers have investigated and released a 188-page analysis of the ongoing police brutality and killing of Black Americans in the U.S. Their verdict: the country is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and should be prosecuted for its…

Tokyo, Olympics

Tokyo Olympics to Encourage Significant Increase in Gender Equality Among Event’s Corporate Sponsors

Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe. Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa…