Senators Fail to Reach Deal on George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

On April 21, Attorney General Garland announced an investigation of the Minneapolis police department in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (photo courtesy of <iStockphoto/NNPA>)

Talks to enact the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act were halted on Wednesday after a bipartisan Senate negotiations team announced it failed to reach a deal.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) called off the talks. No further discussions are in the works.

“Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners, and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal,” Sen. Booker stated.

“With this verdict, the jury has made an unambiguous declaration that unwarranted use of force against Black people by police is a crime and that Black Lives Matter,” said National Urban League President Marc Morial. (l-r) George Floyd and Derrick Chauvin.

“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.”

Lawmakers had worked toward a measure following the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

Optimism about a deal peaked in April when a jury convicted former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of Floyd’s murder.

Floyd’s killing led to global protests and corporate awareness of the call that Black lives matter.

Introduced by California Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act addressed a range of policies and issues surrounding police practices and accountability.

The bill sought to lower the criminal intent standard to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution.

In addition, the measure would limit qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against an officer, and it would grant administrative subpoena power to the Department of Justice in pattern-or-practice investigations.

Notably, the measure establishes a framework to prevent and cure racial profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels.

It restricts the use of no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and carotid holds.

“On behalf of the families of George Floyd and so many others who have been impacted by police violence, we express our extreme disappointment in Senate leaders’ inability to reach a reasonable solution for federal police reform,” Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump wrote in a statement. “In the last year and a half, we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of Americans urging lawmakers to bring desperately needed change to policing in this country so there can be greater accountability, transparency, and ultimately trust in policing.

“People, including many police leaders, have raised their voices for something to change, and partisan politics once again prevents common-sense reform. We cannot let this be a tragic, lost opportunity to regain trust between citizens and police.

“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.”

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