House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that Democrats will introduce far-reaching legislation crafted to fight racial inequities in the criminal justice system, healthcare system, and education.
The package, which is currently being written by members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), will feature provisions designed to eliminate racial profiling, limit excessive use of police force, and eliminate the qualified immunity doctrine, which protects police officers from lawsuits over actions they perform in the line of duty.
Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday that the legislation is focused on “Protecting equal justice and including a number of provisions ending racial profiling ending excessive use of force, ending qualified immunity, and again, addressing the loss of trust between police departments and communities they serve.”
Pelosi emphasized that the legislation will encompass many other reforms.
She said the CBC is taking the lead with the additional provisions and they will be all-encompassing and bold not incremental.
“Monday, we’ll be making our announcement as to what how we go forward in this particular aspect of it, but it is about other injustices too. It’s about health disparities. It’s about environmental injustice. It’s about economic injustice. It’s about educational injustice. So, we want to see this as a time where we can go forward in a very drastic way not incrementally, but in an important way to redress those problems.”
“We will not relent until that is secured, that justice is secured.”
The Democrats are taking these legislative steps in response to a number of recent killing of unarmed African Americans at the hands of law vigilantes and police.
The most recent took place in Minneapolis on May 25, when George Floyd, 46, was arrested by police outside a south Minneapolis grocery store on Memorial Day for alleged fraud. A citizen’s cellphone video showed an officer—who has since been identified as 44-year-old Derek Chauvin—kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe and begged officers not to kill him. He eventually became unresponsive, with one witness noting that his nose was bleeding. The footage spread quickly on social media.
“What happened with George Floyd, it is so heartbreaking but it’s pivotal, it’s an inflection point, it is a threshold that our country has crossed,” added Pelosi.
“We’re taking our lead from our distinguished Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Karen Bass. As you probably know, in the Congress of the United States, the Black Caucus is considered the conscience of the Congress and the years of experience—when I say experience, I mean personal, as well as legislative experience—as to how we go forward,” said Pelosi.
“Our nation needs Congress to act. This is our moral moment. We must look at legislation to address laws that shield police officers from ever being accountable. We must address the structural conflicts of interest,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), CBC Chair and House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Chair said in a statement Wednesday.
In response Pelosi’s announcement about the new legislation being introduced Monday, MoveOn #Blacks Lives Matter posted this tweet: “Thank you, @SpeakerPelosi and @TheBlackCaucus for your commitment to policing reform and hard work to introduce historic legislation on Monday, June 8th.”