Black People in America are Three Times More Likely to be Killed by Police Than White People
NEW YORK –– Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements about the House of Representatives introducing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), passed the House last Congress with bipartisan support, and was introduced in the Senate by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and now-Vice President Kamala Harris. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a vote on the current bill next week.
“The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a strong and urgently needed step toward creating a system of police accountability, transparency and training, and Everytown will stand behind leaders in the House as they fight to make it the law of the land,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.
This bill is an important step on a long journey toward reforming policing in America, and ending the centuries of police violence against Black people who have suffered disproportionately since our nation’s founding,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We applaud our leaders in the House of Representatives for taking action, especially the members of the Congressional Black Caucus who have led the fight for justice for a long time. It’s time to pass this bill into law.”
“Gun violence is gun violence, no matter who is pulling the trigger,” said DeVitta Briscoe, a survivor of gun violence whose son Donald McCaney was killed by gun violence in 2010 and whose brother Che Taylor was shot and killed by police in 2016. “For far too long, there have been little to no consequences in this country for killing Black people –– especially for police officers. There is no way to bring back my son or my brother, but we can and must honor them with action, and I applaud the House of Representatives for leading the way with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”
“NOBLE remains unwavered in supporting the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” said Lynda Williams, President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). “Overwhelmingly, the sentiment has been we have to have better and be better as law enforcement officials and the passage of this act is paramount in achieving the fundamental principle of a police force that ‘protects and serves’ every citizen of their community, with fairness, accountability and transparency in their actions.”
This bill, which is one of Everytown’s top legislative priorities, would take several necessary steps to address police brutality, racial profiling, and other fundamental problems in our law enforcement system. These critical measures include:
- Improving the use of force standard for federal officers so that force may be used only when absolutely necessary, and pressuring state and local actors to do the same (using federal grant money);
- Banning the use of chokeholds and carotid holds for federal officers, requiring federal officers to intervene when other officers use excessive force, and pressuring state and local actors to do the same;
- Requiring training for federal officers on de-escalation, implicit bias, and procedural justice, and pressuring state and local actors to do the same;
- Limiting the transfers of military-style equipment to state and local law enforcement;
- Creating a national police misconduct registry, with information about misconduct, discipline, and terminations;
- Empowering state attorneys general to investigate and intervene when local police departments have a pattern or practice of abuse and discrimination under federal law, and creating a grant program for independent state investigations;
- Updating the criminal police misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute law enforcement officers who kill civilians, and enabling people injured or killed by law enforcement to protect their constitutional rights in court;
- Requiring federal officers to wear body cameras, and requiring state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to do the same;
- Collecting data on federal law enforcement actions, and pressuring state and local agencies to report use of force incidents to the federal government; and
- Creating anti-lynching provisions, including provisions that make it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing hate crimes laws.
The reintroduction of this bill comes after a year of historic protests led by civil rights and racial justice organizations, organizers and advocates across the nation. The protests started after the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while Floyd cried out that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd was pinned down to the pavement — while handcuffed — outside of a market where employees had called police about a counterfeit bill. In many cases, the protests were met with further incidents of police brutality across America.
Gun violence is a uniquely American epidemic, and gun violence by police is, too. Firearms are the cause of death in 95% of all police killings, and every year, police in America shoot and kill more than 1,000 people. The combination of systemic racism, white supremacy, America’s gun culture, and the militarization of police is toxic—and Black people in particular are paying with their lives. According to Mapping Police Violence, Black Americans account for only 13 percent of the population but are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people.