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Analysis: Optimism on police reform in the Capitol collides with anguish in the streets

April 25, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 22.7%. 2 min read.

As President Joe Biden looks to build momentum for police reform in his address to a joint session of Congress this week, there is some optimism in Washington about the potential for a bipartisan compromise that would finally create movement on the issue. But beyond the beltway, there is also deep frustration and anger in the streets of America as young men and women of color keep getting injured and killed by police.

While the murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd last May, demonstrated accountability in one case that was a cause for celebration among activists last week -- the troubling series of police shootings just in the days that followed has underscored how one verdict will not produce the kind of transformational societal and cultural change that is needed to stop the disproportionate killings and injuries of Black and Brown people during encounters with police.

But the recent shootings also illustrate how the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that is being considered in Congress -- which would set up a national registry of police misconduct and overhaul qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that protects law enforcement officers from civil lawsuits -- will only address some aspects of the problem, and would not necessarily have prevented any of the violence that unfolded last week.

But there were new signs of hope last week that Republican and Democratic lawmakers are at least serious about making a deal on police reform -- and lead negotiator Rep. Karen Bass of California, a Democrat, said she hoped the two sides could put together a framework by late May, which would be the one-year anniversary of Floyd's murder.

Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina floated a potential compromise on reforming qualified immunity, arguing that police departments could be held accountable even if individual officers are still shielded.

"Qualified immunity has in many instances become the hood for bad police officers to, in fact, act as modern-day Ku Klux Klan members against Black and Brown people in this country.

Biden plans to make a push for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, marking his first 100 days in office and laying out his priorities going forward.

by summa-bot

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