ACLU Responds to Reintroduction of George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Calls on Congress to Address Police Brutality

May 23, 2024 5:00 pm

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WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) reintroduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This Saturday marks the tragic 4-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, at the hands of a white police officer. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would seek to address the racial profiling and use of force that so often results in deadly police encounters.

The American Civil Liberties Union welcomes the reintroduction of this important legislation; however, the ACLU calls on Congress to strengthen and improve portions of the bill to provide the federal interventions necessary to address police misconduct and brutality.

Nearly four years since George Floyd’s murder, systemic racism and disproportionate use of lethal force continue to plague America’s approach to policing. Police killed at least 1,247 people in 2023, more than any previous year on record. So far this year, there have only been 9 days where police did not kill someone. Black and Brown individuals, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals with disabilities are still more likely to be killed or harmed by police in America.

Cynthia W. Roseberry, director of policy and government affairs at the ACLU’s Justice Division, issued the following statement in response to the reintroduction of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“Finally, 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.”

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