President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday aimed at preventing and punishing police misconduct, a step that came on the second anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd but fell well short of the sweeping reform legislation the White House had hoped would be law by now.The order authorizes the formation of a national accreditation system for police departments, and it will create a national database of federal officers who have disciplinary records or face substantiated misconduct complaints. Federal law enforcement agencies will also update their use-of-force policies to emphasize de-escalation.“It’s a measure of what we can do together to heal the very soul of this nation, to address profound fear and trauma — exhaustion — that particularly Black Americans have experienced for generations,” Biden said. “And to channel that private pain and public outrage into a rare mark of progress for years to come.”Biden was joined by civil rights leaders, police officials, members of Congress and family members of victims of police violence, including Floyd and Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police in Louisville in 2020. The event came at a tense moment in the aftermath of several mass shootings, including one in which Black residents of Buffalo were attacked at a grocery store.The order was the result of a months-long process that began in earnest after the collapse last September of congressional efforts to craft a bipartisan bill. Police groups denounced a leaked draft in January that cited “systemic racism” in the criminal justice system, and the order then went through several iterations after that based on input from police groups and civil rights advocates, according to White House officials.Wednesday’s version reflected a careful balance. It noted that “the vast majority of law enforcement officers do these difficult jobs with honor and integrity,” while adding that “fatal encounters have disparately impacted Black and Brown people and other people of color.”Two years after Floyd's death, little movement on reformAt the start of his remarks, Biden addressed the massacre that occurred on Tuesday in Texas, when an 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school, saying he and first lady Jill Biden would visit the community in the coming days.“I’m sick and tired. I’m just sick and tired of what’s going on and what continues to go on,” Biden said, before escalating his rhetoric on the constitutional right to bear arms.“The Second Amendment is not absolute,” he said. “When it was passed, you couldn’t own a — you couldn’t own a cannon. You couldn’t own certain kinds of weapons. It’s just always been limitations. But guess what? These actions we’ve taken before, they saved lives. And they can do it again.”Advocates have been pressing the White House to take sweeping action to address systemic racism, with a focus on overhauling policing and the criminal justice system. They fear Biden has lost a sense of urgency about police reform after the collapse of legislation named for Floyd, a Black man whose death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in 2020 set off social justice demonstrations nationwide.Biden said he would have signed the executive order sooner but was worried that it would derail negotiations in the Senate. “Our Republican colleagues opposed any meaningful reform,” he said. “So we got to work on this executive order.”He also alluded to Black leaders’ concern that the order falls short of what is needed. “I know progress can be slow and frustrating. And there is a concern that the reckoning on race inspired two years ago is beginning to fade,” he said toward the end of his remarks, urging the room of activists and lawmakers to keep pushing.A year ago, on the first anniversary of Floyd’s death, the man’s family was also at the White House. Biden at the time assured Floyd’s relatives that he was still hoping to sign police reform legislation named in honor of their brother, father and uncle.During that meeting last year, Biden told them he was frustrated that the legislation hasn’t passed but he said, according to those who attended, that he was willing to be patient and “make sure it’s the right bill, not a rushed bill.”The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House but not the Senate, would have implemented a broader array of changes, including banning the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants, as well as prohibiting racial profiling. The biggest sticking point was over ending “qualified immunity,” which makes it harder to sue individual law enforcement officers over their actions on the job.Without legislation, Biden has little authority to directly control the practices of the nation’s 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies. And while he can change the policies of federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI, those changes can be reversed by a future president.So Biden’s actions on Wednesday were intended in many ways to provide guidelines and incentives for local police.The executive order authorizes the Justice Department to use federal grant funding to encourage local police to further restrict the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants, steps that federal law enforcement agencies have already taken. The order also establishes new restrictions on the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.It says federal agents have a duty to intervene if they see other law enforcement officials using excessive force. That language echoes changes made by the Justice Department last week in its use-of-force policy, which was updated for the first time in 18 years.Similarly, the order will encourage all law enforcement agencies to participate in the new misconduct database and to adopt de-escalation policies similar to those that federal agencies will put in place.The White House does not have the power to make some changes long demanded by advocates, such as getting rid of qualified immunity, which protects police officers from being sued individually for misconduct and was included in the federal bill. Dozens of statehouse bills that would eliminate such immunity have also been defeated.Other changes, like banning chokeholds or adopting stricter policies about when police can use force, similarly require action on the state or local level.But Biden and Vice President Harris, while acknowledging Wednesday’s action did not go nearly as far as they wanted, still declared it an important moment. As Harris introduced Biden, she turned to the family members of those who’d died at the hands of police.“You have felt so much pain and you have endured unimaginable grief. You have experienced the anguish of losing someone you love and cherish,” she said. “And yet you are here, as you have been throughout the days of your grief, standing selflessly full of grace and resilience to speak up, to speak out, often against odds, great odds to fight for a world where no one has to experience what you have been through.”After signing the order, Biden called up Floyd’s daughter, Gianna.“You’re getting so big!” he said to the 10-year-old.He also recounted what she told him nearly two years ago. “ 'My dad is going to change history,’ ” Biden recalled her saying. “And he will, honey. He will.”
WASHINGTON – Two years after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked nationwide protests, President Joe Biden signed a wide-ranging executive order on Wednesday that aims to hold police accountable for excessive use of force.With the Floyd family and Taylor's loved ones among those present, Biden said that in signing the measure, he sought to "address profound fear and trauma, exhaustion" that Black Americans in particular have experienced and to "channel that private pain and public outrage into a rare mark of progress.""The message is clear: enough. Just enough," Biden said of protests across the nation in the wake of Floyd's death.Biden’s order requires all federal law-enforcement agencies to limit the use of force, ban the use of chokeholds unless deadly force is authorized, restrict the use of no-knock entry warrants and require the activation of body-worn cameras during arrests and searches, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters ahead of the announcement.The order also calls for national accreditation standards for policing and the creation of a national database that will include records of officer misconduct. It also will restrict the transfer or purchase of surplus military equipment to local police and require annual anti-bias training.Biden signed the order at a White House ceremony on the two-year anniversary of the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, 2020, after a white officer used his knee to pin Floyd to the ground.Floyd’s relatives attended the ceremony, along with the families of other people killed by police, including the mother and relatives of Taylor, whom police officers shot and killed in her Louisville home on March 13, 2020, after breaking down her door to serve a search warrant.Louisville violence:McConnell blames Biden for empty US Attorney seats. The problem is closer to homeBiden's order, which will impact more than 100,000 federal law-enforcement officers, follows the collapse last September of an effort in Congress to pass legislation aimed at holding police accountable for violence in the line of duty.In the months that followed Floyd's killing, protesters took to the streets in Minneapolis and around the country to protest police brutality and racism. Some of that unrest was violent.When four officers were convicted last year for killing Floyd, Biden urged Congress to pass legislation to reform police by the anniversary of his death. A bipartisan group of lawmakers met for months behind closed doors but was unable to agree on how to bolster transparency within police departments and collect data on use of force.With Congress deadlocked, Biden promised to use the limited powers of his office to order change.REALITY CHECK:Calls to 'defund the police' clash with reality for many Americans, city polls showLouisville Mayor Greg Fischer was among the officials and guests at the White House during Wednesday's signing, telling The Courier Journal he found time to have "a nice, long talk" with Tamika Palmer, Taylor's mother."I really admire her tenacity, that she was the national face of tragedy and made something good happen because of it," Fischer said in a phone interview, "so today was an important day for George Floyd's family but obviously for Breonna's family as well."Fischer said while Biden's new order only applies to federal law enforcement agencies, one of the "critical" parts of it that could impact Louisville Metro Police and other local departments is the creation of the national database on officer misconduct.He also said LMPD and Metro Government, which the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating in an ongoing "patterns and practices" probe, are "well down the road" of following the other policies called for in Biden's executive order.Fischer added "it's a shame" that Biden had to issue an executive order instead of Congress passing legislation on the police reform provisions.Biden's executive order was lauded by from some groups pushing for greater police accountability, but they stressed that more needs to be done."We know full well that an executive order cannot address America's policing crisis the same way Congress has the ability to, but we've got to do everything we can," said Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP. "There's no better way to honor George Floyd's legacy than for President Biden to take action by signing a police reform executive order."Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, called Biden's actions "a commendable first step to address a deeply unjust system."But, "it is still imperative that Congress pass national police accountability legislation to address the killings of Black women, men, and children around the country by law enforcement," as well as the deaths and mistreatment of people of color by police more generally, Hewitt said.Billy Kobin with The Courier Journal contributed reporting.Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.
On the second anniversary of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order on policing reforms for federal law enforcement.He had made a campaign promise to enact broader reform -- but Democrats in Congress failed to overcome Republican opposition to a measure that would hold local police accountable -- by making federal funding contingent on departments following congressionally-imposed requirements. The order signed Wednesday will apply to roughly 100,000 federal officers total, administration officials said.Speaking in the East Room surrounded by Floyd’s family members, relatives of Breonna Taylor and civil rights leaders, Biden celebrated the order as a "measure of what we can do together to heal the very soul of this nation to address profound fear and trauma exhaustion."But first, he and Vice President Kamala Harris briefly addressed the shooting that took place Tuesday at a Texas elementary school that left 19 young children and two teachers dead."Enough is enough," Harris said. "We must work together to create an America where everyone feels safe in their community, where children feel safe in their schools."Biden, who confirmed he will be traveling to Texas with first lady Jill Biden in the coming days, called for gun control reform."We’re here today for the same purpose," Biden said, "to come together and say enough, to act, we must."President Joe Biden looks on prior to a signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House, May 25, 2022.Jim Watson/AFP via Getty ImagesThe executive order signed by Biden will create a new national database that contains records of federal officer misconduct, including convictions, terminations, de-certifications, civil judgments, resignations and retirements while under investigation for serious misconduct.It also requires all federal law enforcement agencies to revise use-of-force policies, banning chokeholds and restricting the use of no-knock warrants -- two tactics that were widely criticized following the deaths of Floyd and Taylor.Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. Taylor, a Black medical worker, was shot and killed by Louisville, Kentucky, police using a no-knock warrant in March 2020.Vice President Harris said Wednesday it was an honor to be joined by the families, stating she’s been moved by their courage."Your loved ones should be with us today," she added. "You should not have to mourn, should never have had to mourn in order for our nation to feel your pain and to understand what is wrong and to agree that something must be done."Vice President Kamala Harris speaks ahead of President Joe Biden's signing of an executive order to reform federal and local policing on the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd, during an event at the White House, May 25, 2022.Kevin Lamarque/ReutersHarris also criticized Senate Republicans for not supporting the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a package of reforms passed by the House last year, stating the GOP members, "walked away from their moral obligation to address what caused millions of Americans to march in the streets.""A few years ago ... she pulled me aside and she said, 'My daddy is gonna change the world,'" Biden said at the ceremony.ABC News' Armando Garcia contributed to this report.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Israel McCullough, a fashion curator, says life is too short to dress boring. What You Need To Know Israel McCullough is a content creator at Riot Cafe Riot Cafe is a social justice cafe and community center in downtown Louisville McCullough found his love for content creating while documenting the 2020 protests He participated in the 2020 protestors “I’m usually out and about in the community taking pictures and showcasing different outfits,” says McCullough. McCullough is also a freelance content creator. The Riot Cafe is one place where he takes pictures of products and shares them on the cafe’s social media pages. McCullough calls the cafe a church with no steeple. “Our mission here is not just a coffee shop. It is to support Black, poor and marginalized people and support the social justice movement,” says McCullough. Riot Cafe opened in 2020 as a safe place for protesters to go and it continues to support the social justice movement. “You can sit and have coffee and enjoy a danish and enjoy a sake or anything of that matter,” says McCullough. “Just to know that you feel loved that you feel respected, and that this is a place where you can come and feel safe. This is a safe space for everybody.” McCullough’s craft is as young as the cafe. “I really started to notice my creativity when I began producing photos and videos for the Black Lives Matter movement centered around Breonna Taylor and George Floyd,” he said. Two years ago on May 25, George Floyd was killed by a then-Minneapolis police officer. Two months before Floyd’s death was captured on video, Breonna Taylor was killed during a Louisville Metro Police Department raid. The deaths sparked McCullough’s hobby, which has turned into full-time work. Documenting the 2020 protests through pictures reopened an old wound from a traffic stop he witnessed when he was in middle school. “They roughed up my mom a little bit, and it was hard. It was hard to take that in on someone like me that’s like really young. It was hard. It was hard to cope for a minute,” says McCullough. That memory pushed him to stand up. “May 29 was the biggest decision of my life. I decided, okay, enough is enough. It’s time to step out. It’s time to start protesting. It’s time to set the example for poor marginalized and Black folks that this is rough. It’s time to speak up and do something,” says McCullough. “I’m tired of living like every day, like my skin feels like a terroristic threat.” Signs and posters made by demonstrators during the 2020 protests in Louisville are on display in the cafe. Riot Cafe has signs and posters made by demonstrators during the 2020 protests on display (Spectrum News 1/Ashley Brown) “We want this to not just be an exhibit, but to start a conversation about gun violence through police brutality into the systems of our world. We’ve had enough with it. It’s time to have these hard conversations,” says McCullough. “Each and every day when I see this exhibit, it emotionally, it takes me back to 2020 with the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and so many others. It was this trauma after trauma just taken into my head. I didn’t know how to process or cope,” says McCullough. McCullough believes Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and others killed by should always be remembered. “I’m hoping that they will be remembered for being hard-working beautiful, outstanding human beings that deserved to live a long and blessed life that unfortunately, that was taken away,” says McCullough. “I believe that every day that we say their names, they’re hearing that in the heavens.” He says it also inspires future generations to continue to fight for change. Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the death of Floyd, was convicted of murder. No one has been charged with Taylor’s death.
LOUISVILLE, Ky.–The trial of all-black militia leader John Johnson continued on May 25 with Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) Sgt. Tim Nett describing to a jury what it was like to have the defendant point an AR-15 rifle at him during the civil unrest of 2020.Johnson stands accused of aiming his rifle at law enforcement officers who were conducting rooftop surveillance during a Sept. 4, 2020, protest in Louisville over the police killing of Breonna Taylor. Nett said he was on the rooftop of the Louisville grand jury building that night when he was told over police radio that Johnson’s Not [Expletive] Around Coalition (NFAC) was approaching his position. Nett said he looked over the rooftop to monitor Johnson and about 12 of his colleagues, and he immediately had a light shined on him. “As I look down, I get a light directly in my face. My immediate reaction was to pull away from the ledge,” Nett said. “I was also blinded [in that moment].” Nett’s involvement in the incident was brief, he said. Johnson continued walking to a park where a demonstration was taking place, and he wouldn’t be charged over the matter until about three months later. Despite characterizing Johnson as a danger to police officers and the public, Nett said he and his fellow law enforcers—who included members of the FBI and Secret Service—didn’t arrest him that night because they were “outgunned.” As he had done in his opening argument, defense attorney Donald Meier scrutinized law enforcement’s decision to allow Johnson to continue walking freely throughout Louisville for the rest of the night, as well as for the next day, which was the running of the Kentucky Derby. Meier asked Nett why police didn’t put Johnson under surveillance and arrest him when he was unarmed and separate from the NFAC. “I can’t speak to anyone else’s decisions. The plan was to deal with it later … Our resources were at a bare minimum,” Nett said. “So, on the list of priorities for keeping the city safe, it was a low priority?” Meier asked. Nett disagreed that it was a low priority, but said the immediate danger had passed when Johnson stopped pointing his rifle at the officers. Meier pressed further. “If you point a weapon at another human being, you’re a threat—especially someone with a vendetta against the police. If Johnson wanted to kill police, that’s extreme danger. Right?” the defense counsel asked. “Yes,” the police sergeant responded. “And yet, it was more important for you to remain on the rooftop than to apprehend that individual?” Meier asked again. “We knew it could be dealt with later,” Nett said. After the prosecution reexamined Nett, he stepped down and Louisville councilman David James took the stand. James interacted with Johnson throughout the summer of 2020, meeting on conference calls to discuss the NFAC’s plans to come to Louisville. James said Johnson wanted to bring the NFAC to Louisville amid the state attorney general’s investigation into the killing of Breonna Taylor. The councilman said he tried to persuade Johnson not to come because of the potential for danger. He said he initially pacified Johnson by promising him a meeting with the attorney general about the investigation into the police. Johnson agreed, and someone at the mayor’s office was supposed to coordinate the meeting—but never did. “I thought that was a mistake,” James said, suggesting that the canceled meeting spurred the NFAC to travel to Louisville. James was still on the stand and had yet to be cross-examined as of the publication of this article. Follow Ken Silva covers national security issues for The Epoch Times. His reporting background also includes cybersecurity, crime and offshore finance – including three years as a reporter in the British Virgin Islands and two years in the Cayman Islands. Contact him at email@example.com
On Wednesday, May 25, two years after the killing of unarmed Black father George Floyd by Minneapolis ex-policeman Derek Chauvin, President Joe Biden is expected to issue an executive order aimed at reforming police departments across the country.The order will direct federal law enforcement agencies to revise their use-of-force policies and to restrict tactics like chokeholds and no-knock warrants, the latter of which played a part in the police killing of Black medical worker Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, mere months before Floyd’s death. Relatives of Floyd and Taylor are expected to attend the signing ceremony, along with the families of others killed by police.As of now, there exists no national registry of police officers fired or resigned for misconduct. The legislation that Biden is expected to sign on Wednesday would correct that problem, along with restricting the transfer of most military equipment to police. The executive order would also require the activation of body-worn cameras during arrests and searches, ideally leading to increased transparency in police encounters with civilians.Though no piece of legislation, federal or otherwise, can restore the lives of Floyd, Taylor, or any of the other victims of racist U.S. policing (which has been shown to affect Black people twice as often as white people), Biden’s executive order could, hopefully, work to reduce the degree and severity of police brutality, an epidemic that has taken far too many lives. “We know full well that an executive order cannot address America’s policing crisis the same way Congress has the ability to, but we’ve got to do everything we can,” NAACP president Derrick Johnson told The New York Times on Wednesday.
Ricky L. JonesOne of the most interesting stories next year will be current Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s bid to become the state’s next governor. At first blush, one might think Cameron, who is Black, would have no chance of winning the governorship of a blood-red state so mired in ultra-conservative ideals that it was the very first one called for Donald Trump in 2016. Deeper analysis reveals other possibilities. Suffice it to say that Kentucky has continuing racial challenges reminiscent of America’s pre-Civil War and Jim Crow past. But don’t say that too loudly around Kentuckians. They don’t like to face their true selves and the intractable racial problems they reify. Contradictions and denial run deep in Kentucky. Background:What to know about Daniel Cameron, the attorney general deciding the Breonna Taylor caseThat said, one can legitimately ask how Cameron can win the governorship of a past-oriented state dominated by the likes of Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, neo-Confederates and an uber-conservative Republican legislature? While it risks the wrath of modern Booker T. Washington apologists, one may find an answer to that query in a passage from the Tuskegee Institute President’s now infamous 1895 Atlanta Exposition Address. In a stunning display of servitude when addressing race relations, Washington reassured the all-white audience that they could trust the loyalty of “their” Blacks. He bellowed, “You can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sickbed of your mothers and fathers and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defense of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one.”Southern white people loved it!Black intellectual W.E.B. DuBois contested Washington’s views and said he was asking Black people to give up political power, higher education and civil rights. Boston Guardian Black newspaper publisher William Monroe Trotter was more muscular in his criticism and labeled Washington “the Benedict Arnold of the Negro race.” While Dubois, Trotter and other Black people opposed Washington, influential whites pushed him to the forefront. President William McKinley said Washington should be embraced as a Black leader because he would not be perceived as too “radical” to whites. Rich white industrialists like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Julius Rosenwald personally funded Washington so well that he was able to give up his Tuskegee salary. More:Democrats say AG Daniel Cameron broke ethics rules by filing for governor. Here's why.Ultimately, McKinley was right. White people didn’t see Washington as radical. To the contrary, they saw him as a “good Negro” whose accommodationist views were unfailingly safe and supportive of a status quo in which white people held all the social, political and economic power while Black people populated the servant class.The Washington example is instructive for therein lies Cameron’s current appeal in Kentucky. He’s perfect for the state! He’s a Black man who, like James Weldon Johnson’s unnamed protagonist in “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man,” has abandoned all Black sensibilities and identifications. While people around the country were enraged over Breonna Taylor’s killing in 2020 by agents of the state; Attorney General Cameron concluded police did nothing wrong. While many celebrated current Kentucky Democratic governor Andy Beshear’s innovative and steady leadership; Cameron badgered and investigated him at every turn. More:Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron files to run for governor in 2023While Black U.S. senate candidate Charles Booker calls out Rand Paul for obstructing federal anti-lynching legislation; Cameron challenges Republicans on nothing. Cameron does not resist Mitch McConnell; he sees him as a father figure. He will not oppose the state’s Republican legislature on anti-Black educational efforts or abortion abolition; he agrees with them. Like Booker T. Washington, Cameron stands by them “with a devotion that no foreigner can approach.”Kentucky is an odd place largely defined by long-standing white socio-political power and Black passivity that is almost incomprehensible to outsiders. Daniel Cameron reinforces that dynamic. He is Clarence Thomas, Tim Scott, Candace Owens and Booker T. Washington all rolled into one. He fiercely pushes Kentucky’s backwards agenda forward. And here’s the bonus. Some less politically astute Black Kentuckians will vote for Cameron simply because he’s Black. He’ll also give the state’s racially insensitive, conservative whites a melanated poster boy to whom they can point and say, “See! We’re not racist! We elected a Black governor!” Through Cameron, Kentucky can give the illusion of change without changing at all. It’s white supremacy in blackface. Instead of endeavoring to become a cosmopolitan 21st-century site of growth, I think it safe to say the lion’s share of Kentuckians are working feverishly to keep their “Old Kentucky Home” as insular, ideologically incestuous and stagnant as possible. It is a largely white ethnostate wedded to, at best, mid-20th century sensibilities. And Daniel Cameron would be the perfect frontman to keep it on that course. So, you dismiss Cameron’s candidacy out of hand? You don’t think he stands a chance of winning in Kentucky next year? I wouldn’t be so sure. Dr. Ricky L. Jones is professor and chair of the Pan-African Studies department at the University of Louisville. His column appears bi-weekly in the Courier-Journal. Visit him at rickyljones.com.
Credit: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30: Terrence Floyd (CenterR) watches as the "George Floyd" sculpture is unveiled during a press conference for Confront Art’s First Exhibition launch SEEINJUSTICE in Union Square on September 30, 2021 in New York City. SEEINJUSATICE contains three statues by artist Chris Carnabuci, “FLOYD”, “BREONNA TAYLOR”, and “JOHN LEWIS.” The art officially opens to the public on October 1st and was organized in collaboration with NYC Parks and the Union Square Partnership. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)Credit: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30: Terrence Floyd (CenterR) watches as the "George Floyd" sculpture is unveiled during a press conference for Confront Art’s First Exhibition launch SEEINJUSTICE in Union Square on September 30, 2021 in New York City. SEEINJUSATICE contains three statues by artist Chris Carnabuci, “FLOYD”, “BREONNA TAYLOR”, and “JOHN LEWIS.” The art officially opens to the public on October 1st and was organized in collaboration with NYC Parks and the Union Square Partnership. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)It's been two years since a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd.On May 25, 2020, then-officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, murdering the father of three. Filmed by a 17-year-old bystander, Floyd’s murder shined a light on the rampant racist attacks and high rates of police brutality that Black Americans face all too often. It sparked worldwide outrage and months of protests from individuals seeking justice and accountability. In response, federal, state, and local lawmakers made promises of reform, some even pledging to heed calls to ‘defund the police.’At least a dozen cities vowed to cut their police budgets and divert funding to community programs, including New York City, Austin, and Los Angeles. Minneapolis seemed to be taking a particularly progressive approach, with its City Council voting to disband its police department and “end policing as we know it.” However, a number of cities ended up going back on their word.Looking back on that tragic day two years ago, many Americans are questioning what has truly changed. Have the institutions that made it possible for these miscarriages of justice to thrive been reformed? How does the government plan to stop the continued over policing and excessive criminalization of Black communities? And what is being done right now to prevent future injustices?We can help you answer those critical questions. Here’s a timeline of how policing has changed since May 2020. May 25, 2020Then-Officer Derek Chauvin murders George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Footage of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds sparks worldwide outrage and months of protests across the U.S.Must WatchIn This Together: Musician Entertains Cooped Up Kids, Model Creates Inclusive Face MasksJune 9: Colorado becomes the first state to get rid of the qualified immunity defense. The move comes after Aurora, Colorado, police put 23-year-old Elijah McClain in a chokehold and injected him with ketamine, ultimately killing him.June 11: Breonna's Law passes unanimously in Louisville, Kentucky. The Louisville Metro Council agrees to ban “no-knock” warrants with the legislation named for Breonna Taylor, who police killed upon entering her home in March 2020.June 25: The House of Representatives passes the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would end qualified immunity for law enforcement, among other reforms. However, negotiations over the bill ultimately collapse in the Senate in September 2021. Talks have not been renewed since. February 2021 February 12: The Minneapolis City Council votes to spend more than $6 million to recruit additional police officers.February 14: The Denver City Council votes to expand a program that sends mental health specialists and paramedics to 911 calls. April 2021April 7: New Mexico repeals qualified immunity.April 10: Maryland becomes the first state to do away with its Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.April 25: New York becomes the first U.S. city to end qualified immunity for police officers who use excessive force or conduct unreasonable searches. August 13, 2021The Austin City Council votes to cut funding for the police department by $150 million, but eventually reverses course, approving a record $442 million budget in 2021.September 14, 2021President Joe Biden’s DOJ announces new policies limiting the use of chokeholds and other neck restraints, as well as ‘no-knock’ warrants, for all federal law enforcement agencies. December 2021 2021 closes as the deadliest year on record for lethal police shootings since the Washington Post first began tracking such data in 2015. Law enforcement officers shot and killed 1,055 people in 2021, an average of nearly three individuals per day.March 1, 2022After running on police reform, Biden rejects calls to ‘defund the police’ in his first State of the Union address.March 24, 2022The Minneapolis City Council approves a $9 million contract with its police union, including retroactive pay increases and no substantive reform. May 20: AG Merrick Garland issues a memo updating DOJ policy to require federal law enforcement officers at the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, and Bureau of Prisons to intervene if they witness a colleague using excessive force.May 25: Biden is set to release an executive order focused on police reform, taking steps like creating a national registry of officer misconduct, banning the use of chokeholds in most circumstances, and limiting the use of no-knock warrants.Police killings continue at a similar rate to previous years, with law enforcement killing 403 people as of May 2022, according to the Washington Post.
President Biden will sign an executive order Wednesday aimed at bolstering police accountability, White House officials said, a step that could re-energize federal reform efforts as the nation marks the second anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd.The order — which drew support from leaders of some major policing organizations — will call for the creation of national standards for the accreditation of police departments and a national database of federal officers with substantiated complaints and disciplinary records, including those fired for misconduct. It also will instruct federal law enforcement agencies to update their use-of-force policies to emphasize de-escalation, Biden aides said during a background briefing for reporters Tuesday.Advocates have been urging the White House to take such action since a sweeping policing overhaul bill failed in Congress last year. The bill was named for Floyd, a Black man whose death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in 2020 prompted mass social justice protests across the country.Civil rights leaders, police officials and family members of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police in Louisville in 2020, are expected to join the president at the White House on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. ceremony at which the order will be signed.“If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said it’s not time for an executive order yet because we should be focused on federal legislation, the George Floyd bill in particular,” Damon Hewitt, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said on Tuesday. “But once that effort was sabotaged, the administration has stepped up as much as it could via executive action.”In a polarized America, Justice Dept. says police reform requires partnership as well as punishmentBiden’s bid to act unilaterally comes amid a rise in violent crime and concern among civil rights groups that the White House has lost a sense of urgency around police reform. Yet the president has little direct authority over the nation’s 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies. In addition to setting new guidelines for federal officers, the executive order aims to offer a template for the broader policing community, asking state and local agencies to embrace the document’s goals.“It’s the nature of American policing. We don’t have a national police force, no national standards and no way of making every department comply with national standards,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which has consulted with the White House on policing issues. “What this does is, when you don’t have Congress acting on a police bill, you have the president of the United States setting the tone: ‘Here’s what I expect of federal agencies and, therefore, I think state and local will follow.’”The executive order will authorize the Justice Department to use federal grant funding to encourage local police to tighten restrictions on the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants — steps that federal law enforcement agencies have already taken. It also will set new restrictions on the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, the White House officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.The executive order also will say federal agents have a duty to intervene if they see other law enforcement officials using excessive force — language that echoes changes made by the Justice Department last week in its use-of-force policy, which was updated for the first time in 18 years.“We feel that this executive order should lay the groundwork for moving forward in a manner which will standardize training and procedures and hopefully standardize police across the country,” said Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, who was involved in negotiations with the White House and was briefed on the contents of the order. “And we hope it will be an element in healing the rifts that exist in some places between police officers and the communities they serve.”This police chief is hiring female officers to fix 'toxic' policingThe White House aides acknowledged that Biden does not have direct authority over local or state police. But they said the order will encourage all law enforcement agencies to participate in the new misconduct database and to adopt de-escalation policies similar to those federal agencies will put in place.“This empowers advocates on the ground to press for changes,” one senior White House official said.Biden announced he would pursue police reform through executive authority last September after the collapse of the federal legislation, which would have banned chokeholds and no-knock warrants, prohibited racial profiling and eliminated qualified immunity for police officers.In a nation polarized over discussions of race and criminal justice, however, negotiations were fraught. Police groups denounced a leaked draft in January that said, in a preamble, that there was “systemic racism” in the criminal justice system.Pasco said the final version of the order includes “allusions to racism.”“But it’s all in the manner in which it was presented,” he said. “Significant changes have been made in the phrasing, in the policy statement.”The senior White House official said the executive order went through several iterations based on broad input from police groups and civil rights advocates. Asked whether the language in the preamble had changed, this official said the document “does not hide from the truth — that we need reform in policing and in the larger criminal justice system.”“That includes systemic racism,” the official said. “The president has spoken to that before. We’re not hiding from that, not backtracking off that.”The White House does not have the power to make some changes long demanded by advocates, such as getting rid of qualified immunity, which protects police officers from being sued individually for misconduct and was included in the federal bill. Dozens of statehouse bills that would eliminate such immunity have also been defeated.Other changes, like banning chokeholds or adopting stricter policies about when police can use force, similarly require action on the state or local level.Washington Post investigative podcast: The cost of no-knock warrantsBut Marc Morial, a former New Orleans mayor who is president and chief executive of the National Urban League, called the order “a very important step.”“We recognize that this process is not going to be easy,” Morial said. “This is a long fight. I’m going to accept this first important step by the president because it’s a powerful statement, and it reflects what he can do with his own executive power.”Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the order will have the most direct impact on the nation’s 100,000 federal officers, given that Biden’s ability to act unilaterally on policies for local and state police is limited.But Cosme said the document could serve as a “national role model for all law enforcement around the country. We’ve engaged in hundreds of hours of discussions, and this can inspire people in the state and local departments to say: ‘This is what we need to do.’”He emphasized that the order will include sections aimed at providing more support for officer wellness, including mental health, and officer recruitment and retention at a time when many departments are facing low morale and staffing shortages.“No officer wants anyone, not the suspect or the victim, to lose their life,” Cosme said. “We want the maximum safety for everyone in the country.”
Since March 2020, what’s something you’ve lost? “My cigarette habit.” Since March 2020, what’s something you’ve gained? “A new sense of direction in my writing and advocacy work. I’ve also been working with a trainer, so I’ve gained some muscle.” Since March 2020, what’s something Louisville has lost? “Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Travis Nagdy, Tyler Gerth.” Since March 2020, what’s something Louisville has gained? “A critical lens to view our existing systems and leaders. A higher standard for change, transparency and accountability. A louder collective voice.” Here’s a magic wand. Wave it and you can change one thing in your neighborhood. What do you change? “A rent cap.” What Louisville dish have you eaten more than any other? “Saag paneer from Kashmir.” Where are you a regular? “Sunshine Grocery on Oak Street is a neighborhood staple for milk, eggs, cereal, rice, toilet paper and even ice cream sometimes.” What closed Louisville business do you miss most? “Highland Coffee and Morels were both diverse and inclusive staples in the Highlands. Also, I have yet to find a vegan fast-food option that can compete with Morels.” What should be Louisville’s theme song? “Gil Scott-Heron, ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.’” What’s one thing Louisville is missing? “A 24-hour coffee shop.” What does Louisville have that it should be known for but isn’t? “Our huge trans community.” In one word, what’s your biggest fear for Louisville? “That people will grow tired of pushing for change and that the status quo will prevail.” In one sentence, how do you spend your weekdays? “Serving coffee, facilitating trans-inclusivity workshops, writing poetry and editing for Queer Kentucky.” Earliest childhood memory? “Almost drowning in a ditch in front of my childhood home after breaking through the ice.” Which possession of yours do you consider priceless? “Old writing notebooks.” Who or what should be on a future cover of Louisville Magazine? “Queer Kentucky. Queer Kentucky is a diverse LGBTQ+-run nonprofit based in Louisville, working to bolster and enhance Queer culture and health though storytelling, education and action. We also partner with organizations that help educate LGBTQ+ folx on safe sex and healthy lifestyles, with a large focus on creating Queer sober spaces. Queer Kentucky actively works with organizations and businesses on their inclusivity efforts, through our workshops and consultation services.”