WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten released the following statement upon introduction of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020—drafted by members of the Congressional Black Caucus and released by Democratic leaders in the House and Senate—which would ban chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct, and prohibit certain no-knock warrants, among a range of other steps, in an effort to reform police departments and provide oversight to address police brutality:
“Equal justice under the law must mean just that; there can’t be one set of norms for those who are white and another for those who are not. The protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder may sound louder and be more multigenerational and multiracial than ever, but the pain and anger behind them are not new. These protests express the hurt, fear and anger Black people have experienced for generations as a result of the injustice they confront daily. And Democrats in Congress are listening and are taking action to reform police practices in America.
“This legislation makes clear that police brutality, misconduct, harassment and killing have no place in this country. It would redefine police misconduct, establish a national use-of-force standard, ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, reform qualified immunity, increase the U.S. Department of Justice’s authority to prosecute misconduct by law enforcement officers, and more. Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed George Floyd, has been the subject of 18 prior complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department's Internal Affairs. This legislation will create transparency, so communities can know records like Chauvin’s and prohibit these dangerous and discriminatory patterns and practices.
“This legislation is not a panacea, but it’s step in the right direction. We must also fight to address all the dimensions of inequality, including fighting for investments in communities of color—in education, community supports, healthcare and neighborhood-based public safety. We must act in the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others who died as a result of discrimination and racism. Special thanks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, and Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, for their leadership to meet this moment for a more just and fair society.”