Only the Black drivers get stopped for something hanging off the mirror? Is that the answer? How many get killed for that? What about selling loose cigarettes? How many people—Black and brown people—get the death sentence from cops for that one? Or for walking on the street and not the sidewalk? “Yes, it’s a mundane reason for stopping somebody,” Masson said of the traffic stop that ended in Wright’s murder. “But I think we need to wait until we know what really happened before we pass judgment. It’s tragic on both sides.”
It was only fatal, however, on one side.
Since January 1, 2021, there have been just 3 days in which one or more people have not been killed by police. That’s 319 people in three and a half months. The same as it ever was, according to Mapping Police Violence.
Since George Floyd’s nationally televised murder, more than 30 states have passed more than 140 new laws to reform and oversee the police, according to an analysis from The New York Times. They range from limiting immunity for cops in four states, requiring or funding body cameras in 10 states, restricting the use of neck restraints in 16 states, and restricting no-knock warrants in five states. Most of these states are Democratic or swing states. Some of the laws are getting bipartisan support—limiting neck restraints passed in Utah.
But the state and local bodies making these new ordinances and laws are stymied by the sway that cops and police unions have locally. Activist DeRay Mckesson, one of the founders of Campaign Zero, told the Times that in some places, like Maryland, lawmakers have become less influenced by police. “They were like, ‘We know what’s right and we won’t be swayed by the police just saying it’s going to cause fear,’” he said. Democratic lawmakers there have passed a sweeping reform package and rescinded the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. They were able to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto. But states like Maryland are few and far between when it comes to standing up to the police and their union.
“Most of our members across the country are finding that you have state legislatures that are including law enforcement in on the discussion,” said Patrick Yoes, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “Then you have those that are pretty much freezing them out and have already made up their mind about the direction they’re going—because they believe that this reform somehow is going to save the day.” When what the lawmakers are really talking about is saving lives.
The answer is federal standards, like the House bill that passed last month. It includes the creation of national standards for policing, bans on chokeholds and some no-knock warrants. It has measures to prevent racial and religious profiling, creates a registry of officers dismissed for excessive use of force, and eases standards for prosecution of officers. It also overhauls qualified immunity, which protects police and other officials from facing lawsuits over abuses they commit in their official capacities.
These federal reforms could save lives. They could be saving 1,100 people per year. But as so many of those lives are Black and brown, the Republican death cult isn’t going to allow that. It’s on Senate Democrats, then, to do the right thing. Do it without them. Abolish the filibuster.