On May 25, 2020 George Floyd was murdered by a police officer charged with protecting and serving the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This killing was broadcasted by a bystander and the entire world caught its breath for eight minutes and forty-six seconds as the life seeped out of George Floyd’s eyes.
Almost a year later, the City of Minneapolis has agreed to pay $27 million to the family of George Floyd in a settlement. This settlement was decided on the fourth day of jury selection for the case against Derek Chauvin, accused of second degree murder for the death of George Floyd. There has been speculation on whether the jury has been too tainted with videos of the death, ongoing protests, and news of the settlement to make an unbiased decision. It is possible that these factors will result in a mistrial.
A third and final result of May 25 is culminating this month, as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 was passed by the democrat controlled House of Representatives and is being considered by the Senate. This bill aims to “hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.”
Nonetheless, the bill includes within it $750 million in funding for “Law Enforcement Grants” for police departments across the country. The bill stipulates that this funding should go toward law enforcement agencies investigating other law enforcement agencies for “the alleged use of deadly force”. Additionally, this bill requires only 5% of grant funding be put toward studying and implementing “effective management, training, recruiting, hiring, and oversight standards and programs to promote effective community and problem solving strategies for law enforcement agencies”.
In effect, this bill falls woefully short from the accountability demanded by Black Lives Matter protesters across the country this summer and now. Instead, this bill increases federal law enforcement funding with effectively no guidance as to how that funding should be spent.
This bill is a disgrace to the names of George Floyd and every Black American who has died at the hands of those who are charged with the duty to “protect and serve”.
Beyond the colossal insult, this series of events sends a loud and clear message as to what our leaders’ priorities are. Our elected officials have no interest in substantial or sustainable reform of the law enforcement and criminal justice system. In fact, over-policing and mass incarceration has functioned exactly as it was supposed to, and no majority of democrats or republicans will sway this special interest.
By awarding the Floyd family a gracious sum and passing a bill which increases law enforcement funding two messages have been made clear. First, the government is willing to publically appease the family of a victim of this oppressive system in order to reinforce systemic oppression. Second, the people’s voice does not matter.
Over the summer it is estimated 15 to 26 million people across the nation grabbed signs and sneakers to march for their, and their neighbors, right to life and liberty. For reference, the state of Pennsylvania holds 12.8 million residents. These protests were considered the largest in U.S. history. This estimate does not include the millions of people who, for health, safety, economic, and a slew of other reasons, could not join this fight but stood with the protesters nonetheless.
However, when it came to the elected representatives of these millions of people making into law the pleads of their constituents, they were met with devastating silence. There is something fundamentally wrong with a democracy which does not listen to the will of its people. There is something fundamentally wrong with a democracy which does not protect the life and liberty of its citizens.
Sources: Congress.gov, NY Times