To surmise shortly, a bill is a proposed piece of legislature that requires a series of congressional steps to be signed as a law.
Following the death of George Floyd, a plethora of organizations, activist groups, Congressional leaders, and citizens have reignited a steep fight to pass legislature to actively prevent and stop police brutality and federal systematic racism.
Here are five laws The People are currently fighting for, and how you can help fight for each one.
Excessive Force Prevention Act (2020)
For those around consciously in 2014, you may recognize this bill name. Following the murder of Eric Garner by NYPD, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY - D) introduced the Excessive Force Prevention Act (EFPA), which states that
This bill amends the federal criminal code specify that the application of any pressure to the throat or windpipe which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air (i.e., a chokehold) constitutes the deprivation of rights under color of law.
The last that was heard of the EFPA bill was in 2018 when the Judiciary Committee referred the bill to Homeland Security for review, and the bill simply died there.
Now, almost 6 years later, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY - D) is reintroducing a senate version of the bill. This would effectively ban "the use of chokeholds or maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain by law enforcement."
This bill has promise, as bipartisan lawmakers at state and federal levels are showing support for this piece of legislature. Including Hakeem Jeffries who is still a representative of the Brooklyn and Queens region.
George Floyd and Eric Garner are just two examples of the deadly effects of the epidemic of police brutality, and it is time to prohibit the use of chokeholds and other brutal restraints that apply pressure to the neck and result in asphyxiation. Their use is an unreasonable measure, an unnecessary measure, an uncivilized measure . . . I thank Senator Gillibrand for introducing this important legislation in the U.S. Senate.
Senate Bill 217
Huge props to Colorado state lawmakers for writing this. This is a phenomenal bill proposal that provides a DETAILED and THOROUGH solution to several of the concerns the American public has. Here are the major highlights of this law:
1. All unedited video and audio recordings of an incident of death, serious bodily harm or injury will be released to the public within fourteen days of the incident occuring (24-31-902 2).
2. Disabling bodycam footage or not turning it on prior to a stop, interference or altercation, will immediately call to question the officer's integrity and alleged "good faith" in the event of death or serious bodily harm (24-31-902 III).
3. All cases resulting in death, serious bodily harm, or injury of a civilian by a police officer is required to be reported directly to the Attorney General (24-31-903 1). This includes reporting demographic, timeline, video/audio evidence, name of everyone at the scene, type of force used, and witness statements.
4. That state and local governments and offices record a comprehensive annual report of all uses of force by police (whether they were investigated, demographic of the suspect, whether an officer resigned, all traffic stop related data including reasoning, demographics, time, duration, suspected crime, if an arrest was made, if someone was charged, prosecuted and/or convicted, if property was seized, and plenty more.)
This report of all police data will be sent to the Attorney General (24-31-903 2).
5. Individual persons can actively sue an officer that is suspected for violating someone's civil rights or causing death, serious bodily harm or injury. Qualified immunity will not be a sufficient response in cases of officers violating the rights granted by the Bill of Rights and the Amendments of the Constitution (24-31-904)
6. This would ban the use of the chokehold maneuver, or any action that restricts pulmonary or respiratory flow and change the stipulations in when firing a gun would be permitted (this will remove the ability to fire at moving motor vehicles, or anyone suspected of committing any non life threatening crime) (18-1-707)
7. A "P.O.S.T" board's responsibilities will be expanded to promote and regulate civil rights are being followed in a police department. This board will develop community outreach programs, have the right and ability to evaluate current training of officers, develop diversifying recruitment programs, create and maintain a public database of police officers and P.O.S.T violations (24-31-303).
8. Police officers will be required, without being asked, to immediately hand any stopped civilians a business card with their information including Name, Badge Number, Division, Precinct, How to File a Complain, Email, Phone Number (24-31-909 a)
I'm praying for this one right now. This would be groundbreaking legislature.
There are dozens of way to come at this situation and combat the terroristic actions of a racist and broken system. One is to be as direct as possible: by labeling these actions as domestic terrorism.
According to Title 18 U.S. Code § 2331, terrorism is defined as:
an act that is violent or dangerous to human life, where the act appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence government policy through intimidation or coercion; or affect government conduct by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping
George's Law, would essentially label hate motivated organizations as terrorist groups, such as the KKK, The United West, and the Proud Boys. Additionally, this would expand domestic terrorism to include hate crimes. The term "racist domestic terrorism" would become legally defined under federal law. My favorite of this law is the last piece, which describes procedure for an officer who has killed any civilian.
Law enforcement officers who kill a civilian in the line of duty be immediately taken into the custody of the police department and held without release up to 30 days after the incident or until a full investigation can be completed by obtaining reviewing witness testimony, body-cam footage, and all other means of corroboration
This would mandate that officers who have killed be treated the exact same as civilians who have killed, detained until investigation be completed.
Justice in Policing Act of 2020
This act is currently in the process of being written by House and Senate Democrats.
It promises mandatory bias training federally for all police and peace officers under U.S. Employment to receive federal funds.
It promises to create a directory or registry for misconduct for every single police and peace officer. It would require police agencies to report all data related to police using force and ban chokeholds.
It will also change prosecution standards for officers. Instead of prosecutors being required to prove that an officer intentionally planned to violate a citizen's civil rights, they would have to prove an officer knowingly violated an individual's civil rights, or disregarded their civil rights.
It would additionally alter qualified immunity federally. It would then require police use de-escalation tactics and only resort to force as a last case scenario.
The bill would limit military weapons being transferred to police departments.
It would require all on duty police officers to wear body cameras and use dashboard cameras.
Finally, it would make lynching a federal hate crime
Amendment/Repeal of New York 50a
Section 50-a of Article V of Civil Rights Consolidated Laws of New York is a right of privacy section that describes all information relating to a police officer, firefighter, peace officer or corrections officer such as performance records, complaints, and more is considered confidential at all times. This allows departments to restrict the release of body cam footage, officer information, hide identities and unconstitutionally protect officers.
Governor Cuomo of New York is willing to sign any reform or repeal request for section 50a of Civil Rights Consolidated Laws Article V.