This is a good start

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Can you imagine being scared to death all your life of the people you are paying to protect you? This has been the experience of the vast majority of Black Americans for way too long.

The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds, alter qualified immunity (making it easier to pursue claims of police misconduct), put a limited ban on no-knock warrants, mandate data collection on police encounters, and prohibit racial and religious profiling, among other things.

Republican critics of the bill claim it goes too far, leaving police unable to do their job. But how can police do their job effectively and build trust in the community if they are not held accountable for their actions and held true to their oath of protection for all? Critics on the left complain that the bill doesn’t do enough, but it’s a good start. It has provisions that are sorely needed, including clarification in writing of what is right and wrong in policing, particularly the abuse of power.

President Biden has pushed for passage of the bill, but it will need 10 Republican votes in the Senate, where they failed to pass a similar version last year.

Jury selection for the former officer responsible for George Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin, begins this week. According to USA Today polls, 60% described Floyd’s death as murder last June, but now it has dropped to 36%. Both results are disturbing, assuming all those surveyed actually saw or know that Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck, while Floyd was pinned to the ground handcuffed, ignoring his protests that he couldn’t breathe for nine and a half minutes.

Only jurors who have not already formed an opinion can serve, so they should see images of Floyd’s death for the first time at trial. Still, juries are unpredictable. Should justice not be served, we will be divided even further and it will take longer to overcome the trauma and outrage experienced by images of Floyd’s death, which has faded little for those who participated in related demonstrations.


The fact that insurrectionists who want to overthrow our government include white supremacy groups doesn’t help the battle to heal the racial divide, nor does the fact that Republicans across most states are pushing to suppress or restrict the vote, disenfranchising mostly the elderly, disabled and poor minority communities. The House has passed the HR1 voting rights bill, which would curtail these efforts, but will also require 10 Republican Senator votes. Passage of HR1 and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act alone are worthy of altering the Senate filibuster rule to at least put its burdens back on the party moving for it, instead of just letting them go home while the other party works and frets to pass something the majority of Americans want and need. But that’s a whole other article.

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