Floyd’s killing prompted national reform, but not everywhere

Austin, Texas (AP) — Last year’s killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests has created a wave of police reform in dozens of states, from changes in the use of force to increased accountability to police officers. .. At the same time, a few state lawmakers have succeeded in addressing racial inequality.

However, these changes obscure the more complex legislative heritage of the movement that many wanted to create a generational shift. Other states do little or nothing about police and reform of racial justice.

In Texas, where Floyd grew up and rested, Senator Royce West helped introduce the “George Floyd Act” into a police review this year. The most prominent black lawmakers admit that they face a long probability in Republican-controlled parliament.

“We have a senator who refuses to pass a bill with his name on it,” he said.

He now wants to take a different approach in the hope of winning — Floyd’s unnamed independent bill that makes fragmentary changes, such as banning police strangler figs.

“We have to ask ourselves if we need symbolism over substance,” West said. “So if we don’t have a vote to pass a bill named after George Floyd, we have to make sure we do some one-off bills.”

Nationwide, the murder conviction of a white Minneapolis police officer who held Floyd’s knee on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes renewed demands for police reform and legislative action to address long-standing racial inequality. Did.

From education to health care to housing, they test how far the state goes to combat police atrocities and organized racism. Some have grabbed a verdict to facilitate legislative action or seek change.

On Wednesday, Republican Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a police bill requiring police officers to report when they use force and point their weapons at someone. Another Republican Governor, Ohio’s Mike DeWine, has announced legislation to increase police surveillance. And in Nebraska, Parliament has submitted a bill calling for increased accountability and training of law enforcement agencies, especially on how to escalate disputes.

Prior to the verdict on Tuesday, members of the California State Legislature’s Black Presidium gathered outside the Parliament to emphasize police and criminal justice reform bills that they wanted to move forward. Last year, several proposals, including the creation of a system to disqualify police officers accused of illegal activity, failed.

“It’s time for us to act,” said Democratic Senator Steven Bradford, who chairs the caucuses. Now, true police reform is needed. “

In the past year, at least 36 states have signed bills to reform police practices, according to the Associated Press’s analysis of data from the National Assembly. The new law comes from at least 1,800 police reform bills submitted to the State Capitol in the United States since Floyd’s murder, most of which were introduced this year.

Proposals include a state-wide ban on strangler figs, restrictions on knock ban warrants, termination of limited immunity for officers, and restrictions on the use of tear gas and other crowd management techniques. The State Capitol has also focused on changing the way deadly police shootings are investigated.

Earlier this month, Maryland legislators overturned the governor’s veto power, abolished the country’s first law enforcement bill, and replaced these protections with procedures that gave civilians a role in disciplinary proceedings. Washington lawmakers are working on about 12 bills reviewing police tactics, use of force, and surveillance over some objections from law enforcement and Republicans.

Many of the successful bills had bipartisan support, but some even in Democratic states, drastic reforms were more difficult due to opposition from police unions. Several states have moved in the opposite direction, expanding bills targeting protesters who have expanded police rights and who were involved in protests last summer.

In Oklahoma, where a proposal to ban the use of police strangler figs has never been heard in a Republican-controlled parliament, a new protest law gives drivers who kill or injure riots immunity. Has been done. Other legislation for protesters is underway in Arizona, Florida, and Tennessee.

“These protest bills were scattered off the floor,” said Tulsa Democrat Regina Goodwin, a state legislature. “In my opinion, Oklahoma is unaware of the serious problems facing the United States in relation to racism and police abuse, or people are doing the opposite because they can. . “

Georgia’s Republican majority parliament argued in Atlanta and other local governments in response to a call to divert some of the police’s money to social welfare, but after a sharper refusal, cities and counties It passed a bill aimed at preventing budget cuts by more than 5% annually. cut.

This year, one of the most fiercely contested bills in the Republican-controlled New Hampshire General Court will ban teaching about systematic racism and sexism in public schools and state-sponsored programs. Under the so-called “division topic” bill, which has already passed one chamber of commerce, the banned subjects are that New Hampshire or the United States is basically racist or sexist and the individual is a person. Includes the notion of being inherently oppressive for a species or gender.

Republican Rep. Keith Ammon said, “If that is the assumption we will make as a society, we will never unite.”

Democratic Rep. Latha Mangipudi called the bill a blow to diversity and democracy. TV earlier this month.

In states where governments are divided, Democratic governors have had limited success in making certain changes, but face broader police and racial equality reforms.

In North Carolina, Republican-controlled legislatures are expected to take steps focused on eliminating problematic police officers and assisting police on mental health needs. However, legislators are likely to avoid the larger recommendations from the Task Force commissioned by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper last year to address racial inequality in the police, criminal justice, and court systems.

Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers ordered Wisconsin patrols and law enforcement agencies in other states on Wednesday to update their use of force policy to ban chokeholds, unless as a last resort. He acted after a Republican-controlled parliament ignored the police reform package proposed last year after Floyd’s murder.

In Minnesota, after a verdict on Tuesday, Democratic Governor Tim Walz said he was ready to continue the attack without progress towards racial equality and police accountability. He said Minnesota’s politically divided parliament would give the state a “great opportunity” to show the world that “fairness, dignity, and humanity should not know the political boundaries.”

“I will burn my political capital with this,” he said.


Based in Columbus, Ohio, Farnoush Amiri is a corps member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in the local newsroom to report on unreported issues.


The Associated Press state legislator across the United States contributed to this report.