ACLU Urges Congress to Address Police Brutality in Response to Reintroduction of George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

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By Perla Chavez

WASHINGTON, DC – The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, re-introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee this past week, is necessary to improve the law, said the ACLU on the four-year anniversary (Saturday) of the murder of George Floyd in police hands that led to the original Policing Act addressing racial profiling or excessive police force issues that lead to fatal encounters.

While the ACLU supports the measure, it writes the ACLU wants to draw attention to specifics of the bill that could be enhanced to enable federal interventions that effectively address police brutality.

Despite the calls to attention for systemic racism and disproportionate use of lethal force since Floyd’s murder four years ago, lethal force has continued in 2023 when 1,247 people died from police brutality, the ACLU claims.

The ACLU notes there has only been nine days this year in which people have not died in police hands, adding individuals from vulnerable communities like Black, brown, LGBTQ+, and folks with disabilities are more likely to be harmed by police in America.

Cynthia W. Roseberry, director of policy and government affairs at the ACLU’s Justice Division, said, “Today’s reintroduction signals a commitment by some members of Congress to address the crisis of police violence in this country. Everyone deserves to be kept safe, especially from police misconduct. Congress must go further to provide strong federal intervention that protects the rights of individuals against the often unchecked power of the police.”

Roseberry adds, “The court-created doctrine of qualified immunity continues to prevent victims of police violence from holding officials liable for preventable deaths while protecting officers who engage in the most egregious conduct.

“Officers who are under internal investigation or who have been fired from law enforcement jobs are still able to hide behind a veil of secrecy and seek employment as police officers in other jurisdictions. A publicly available registry of police misconduct is essential to prevent dangerous officers from evading accountability.”

Roseberry added, “The Pentagon continues to transfer equipment used on battlefields to police departments across the country; equipment that we have seen used against individuals exercising their First Amendment rights, resulting in unnecessary injuries.

“Inaccurate and invasive biometric and facial recognition technology are increasingly being used by police without adequate discussions about their technological shortcomings, the risks they create for vulnerable communities, or their detrimental impact on privacy. Federal law must prohibit the use of these unreliable and dangerous technologies by the government and policing agencies.”

The ACLU’s Roseberry argued, “allocating federal dollars towards programs that provide mental health services and alternative crisis response show promising results for reducing police violence while filling the gaps in our mental health and substance use addiction systems. Police are not equipped to answer every emergency call.

“Congress should invest in models that provide the right response to the right situation. Federal investments that support the economic, healthcare, education, and housing needs of communities will result in safer communities. Federal legislation on policing is long overdue. The ACLU calls on Congress to act swiftly to guarantee the civil liberties and safety of all of us.”

About The Author

Perla Chavez is a first-generation college student that has obtained a paralegal certificate from the UCLA Extension Paralegal Program. Her academic journey includes a major in Political Science with a focus on race, ethnicity, and politics at UCLA. Perla has actively contributed to social justice advocacy through internships with CHIRLA and the NAACP. Driven by her passion to recognize inequalities and advocate for the rights of others, Perla aspires to become an immigration lawyer. Apart from her dedication to academics and the legal field, she finds fulfillment in being a volunteer for the city of California City, spending quality time with family, and expressing creativity through painting.

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