Things That Matter

New York State Repeals Police Protecting Law 50-A, Major Victory For Protesters

Protesters have been filling the streets in major American cities across the country. The sustained protests have disrupted life in the cities but they are working and police reform is happening across the country.

New York State repealing Law 50-A is a major win for protesters.

The Back Lives Matter protests have taken over major cities demanding police reform. New York and Louisville, Kentucky both acknowledged the protesters and have started to implement changes.

In Louisville, the city has banned no-knock warrants in honor of Breonna Taylor. The young woman was in her home when the police broke into the wrong house on a no-knock warrant. Taylor’s home was the wrong address and police shot and killed the EMT.

Law 50-A made records on police behavior a secret. It meant that the public did not have access to documented proof of police brutality and discipline. The law is often used by police departments in New York to protect police officers from public demands for information.

The New York state legislature voted on a stalled piece of legislation that reformed that law.

George Floyd’s death has fundamentally changed America unlike any videoed police death before it. The outrage is deeper, louder, bigger, and more resilient. It is clear that America is fed up with the constant barrage of proof of police brutality going unnoticed.

“The silver lining on this incredibly dark cloud is that the sun is finally starting to shine on injustice. Maybe it’s the unmistakable, and in my opinion indisputable, video evidence that we saw a live murder on TV, but it’s done something to the consciousness of America,” said bill sponsor Sen. Jamaal Bailey in a floor speech before the bill passed. “I don’t know if there could be a more meaningful piece of legislation for me and this body because it’s way more than just policy.”

People are giving all of the credit to the protesters who have used their voices to bring about the change they wanted to see.

Thousands of people have braved a deadly pandemic to demand justice for George Floyd and all of the Black men, women, and children killed by police. Even with COVID-19 infecting millions of Americans and killing more than 113,000, Americans are taking to the street for justice.

Activists are grateful for the support and the immediate change it is creating.

People have been fighting for justice for a long time in the U.S. A majority of Americans are on the side of the protesters and are coming around to the idea of reforming the police.

Protesters are not letting up as they see victory after victory. One of the main points of the protesters is reallocating some funds to the police to other resources. Activists are demanding that social workers, community programs, schools, libraries, and other public entities receive the funds. This would lead to fewer police officers answering non-crime calls sparing lives in the process.

READ: This Is What Protesters Actually Mean When They’re Calling For Cities To ‘Defund The Police’

St. Louis Protesters Return To The Area Where A White Couple Drew Guns At Activists

Things That Matter

St. Louis Protesters Return To The Area Where A White Couple Drew Guns At Activists

Michael B. Thomas / Getty

In another display of a peaceful protests, activists returned the site of a St. Louis mansion owned by the white couple who drew out their guns during a calm demonstration last month. On Friday, chanting protesters returned to the home of Patricia and Mark McClosky, stopping just outside of their gate to protest for nearly 15 minutes.

During the peaceful protest over a dozen men in plain clothes walked the area inside of the gate.

According to Time Magazine, “One protester briefly straddled an iron gate as if he was going to jump over, but did not. No one threw anything and no one behind the gates showed aggression. One man on the McCloskeys’ balcony clapped along with the chanting protesters.” The crowd of protesters included a racially diverse crowd carrying signs calling to “Defund the Police” and underlining that “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace.” Chants included calls like “when Black lives are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back,” and “this is what democracy looks like.”

According to reports, it is unknown if the McCloskeys were home. Soon after, the protestors left and marched to Interstate 64. Police had closed off the roads to traffic in both directions to allow protestors to march onto the highway. There the protestors sat on the highway for several minutes to honor the life of George Floyd who died on May 25 after a white police officer pressed his knee to his neck for over eight minutes.

The recent rally was organized by the group Expect Us and is among various demonstrations in St. Louis that have taken place in the weeks since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

The McCloskeys first came to national attention in mid-June after they had been spotted aiming guns at protesters outside their home in St. Louis. Soon after the images of them began circulating Twitter dubbed them “Ken and Karen” and the stars of the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” remake no one asked for. The incident occurred as protesters marched their way towards the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson who declared in a Facebook post that she would not support rising calls to defund the police. She also reportedly shared activists’ full names and addresses while reading off suggestions on how to better spend the city’s funds. After users ridiculed her online, Krewson apologized for her actions saying “Never did I intend to harm anyone or cause distress,” Krewson tweeted. “The update is removed and again, I apologize.”

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

Things That Matter

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the country has struggled with how to best respond to police brutality and racial inequality. Millions of Americans (and millions more around the world) have poured into the streets demanding justice and police accountability.

Although more Black Americans have been killed by police since the death of George Floyd – and long before him – police reform is finally starting to take shape. Several communities across the United States are discussing ways to defund and restructure their police forces and their entire approach to supporting and protecting communities.

Although several victories have already been won, there is still so much work to do to ensure that #BlackLivesMatter.

Minneapolis will defund and dismantle their police force.

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously approved a proposal to change the city charter to allow the Police Department to be dismantled – this is the first step in removing the police force.

The 12-0 vote is just the first step in a process that still faces significant obstacles to make the November ballot, where the city’s voters would have the final say. Activists have long accused the department of being unable to change a racist and brutal culture, and earlier this month, a majority of the council proclaimed support for dismantling the department.

Draft language of the amendment posted online would replace the department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach

Cities such as New York and Los Angeles are defunding their police departments.

Credit: Emily Uite/ Getty Images

Aside from completely dismantling the police, several major cities have committed to defunding their police departments. “Defund the police” has become a common protest chant, as protesters want to see the billions of dollars spent on police equipment and enforcement to instead be spent on investing in communities.

Several jurisdictions have implemented total bans on the police use of choke holds – like the one that killed Eric Gardner.

The NYPD has long banned the use of chokeholds, however, their ban is so often ignored by officers that viral videos of NYPD cops using the deadly maneuver are common. But the New York City Council has just adopted an ordinance that officially makes police use of a chokehold a misdemeanor offense.

The legal ban has already been put into action as an NYPD officer was caught on video using one against a suspect. That officer has already been fired and charged.

Although several police departments have long banned the chokehold – for example, the LAPD banned them 40 years ago – cities are now starting to actually attempt to enforce the ban with legal consequences.

For the first time in decades, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a police reform bill.

Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over how to address racial inequities in policing, despite strong public sentiment for effective reform after Floyd died in Minneapolis as a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In June, the House passed sweeping legislation to address racial inequality in policing but the bill is all but dead on arrival in the Senate, and has a formal veto threat from Trump.

The bill addresses chokeholds, no-knock warrants, police body cameras, use of deadly force, and training to de-escalate confrontations with suspects and to encourage officer intervention against illegal conduct as it occurs.

And one thing is clear – these reforms have the support of most Americans.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Most Americans believe that change must be made to law enforcement across the nation and that reforms are needed to reduce police brutality against Black Americans.

The poll, which was conducto de by Ipsos on behalf of Public Agenda and USA TODAY, found that about three in four people surveyed say racial bias against Black Americans is a serious problem in the U.S.

The poll found several reforms that focused around training and diversity in policing had support from three-quarters or more of respondents: requiring all officers to undergo training on de-escalation tactics to avoid the use of force, requiring all officers to undergo training on how to be less racially biased and recruiting more Black Americans to become police officers.

Even more popular: transparency reforms. Nine in 10 respondents supported having officers wear body cameras, 8 in 10 supported requiring police departments to publicly report all incidents involving the use of force within 72 hours, and nearly as many supported creating a national public database of officers who have used excessive force – and prohibiting other jurisdictions from rehiring them.