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Everytown Applauds House Passage of George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

March 4, 2021

Firearms are the Cause of Death in 95% of all Police Killings, and Every Year, Police in America Shoot and Kill More Than 1,000 People

Black People in America are Three Times More Likely to be Killed by Police Than White People 

NEW YORK –– Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements about the House of Representatives passing  the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), has also garnered the support of President Joe Biden. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it was introduced last Congress by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and now-Vice President Kamala Harris. 

“The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is an important and urgently needed step toward creating a system of police accountability, transparency and training,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The Senate must follow the House’s lead and pass this bill into law.”

“This bill is an important step on a long journey toward reforming policing in America,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “It cannot provide justice for the generations of primarily Black Americans who have suffered and died from police violence, but –– if passed into law –– it will help prevent more death and injustice. We applaud the House for acting swiftly to pass it, especially the Congressional Black Caucus for their decades of advocacy on this life-and-death issue.”

“Gun violence is gun violence, no matter who is pulling the trigger,” said DeVitta Briscoe, a survivor of gun violence whose son Donald McCaney was killed by gun violence in 2010 and whose brother Che Taylor was shot and killed by police in 2016. “For far too long, there have been little to no consequences in this country for killing Black people –– especially for police officers. There is no way to bring back my son or my brother, but we can and must honor them with action, and this bill would do just that.”

This bill, which is one of Everytown’s top legislative priorities, would take several necessary steps to address police brutality, racial profiling, and other fundamental problems in our law enforcement system. These critical measures include: 

  • Improving the use of force standard for federal officers so that force may be used only when absolutely necessary, and pressuring state and local actors to do the same (using federal grant money); 
  • Banning the use of chokeholds and carotid holds for federal officers, requiring federal officers to intervene when other officers use excessive force, and pressuring state and local actors to do the same;
  • Requiring training for federal officers on de-escalation, implicit bias, and procedural justice, and pressuring state and local actors to do the same;
  • Limiting the transfers of military-style equipment to state and local law enforcement;
  • Creating a national police misconduct registry, with information about misconduct, discipline, and terminations;
  • Empowering state attorneys general to investigate and intervene when local police departments have a pattern or practice of abuse and discrimination under federal law, and creating a grant program for independent state investigations;
  • Updating the criminal police misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute law enforcement officers who kill civilians, and enabling people injured or killed by law enforcement to protect their constitutional rights in court; 
  • Requiring federal officers to wear body cameras, and requiring state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to do the same;
  • Collecting data on federal law enforcement actions, and pressuring state and local agencies to report use of force incidents to the federal government; and
  • Creating anti-lynching provisions, including provisions that make it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing hate crimes laws.

The House passage of this bill comes after a year of historic protests led by civil rights and racial justice organizations, organizers and advocates across the nation. The protests started after the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while Floyd cried out that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd was pinned down to the pavement  — while handcuffed — outside of a market where employees had called police about a counterfeit bill. In many cases, the protests were met with further incidents of police brutality across America. 

Gun violence is a uniquely American epidemic, and gun violence by police is, too. Firearms are the cause of death in 95% of all police killings, and every year, police in America shoot and kill more than 1,000 people. The combination of systemic racism, white supremacy, America’s gun culture, and the militarization of police is toxic—and Black people in particular are paying with their lives. According to Mapping Police Violence, Black Americans account for only 13 percent of the population but are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. 

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