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New York state passed a police reform bill package on June 10 that says if a police officer who injures or kills somebody through the use of “a chokehold or similar restraint” can be charged with a Class C Felony. Governor Cuomo said, “There is a moment for change and we are going to make change, and we are going to pass legislation this week that I am going to sign that is going to lead the nation in police reform, releasing disciplinary records, what they call 50a, banning chokeholds, which should have been done a long time ago, and that will be in the state law.
“This is an enormous step forward for police accountability in New York State. At a time when New Yorkers have taken to the streets in the midst of a global pandemic to voice the need for police accountability and racial justice, this is a welcome development,” said Rebecca Brown, policy director for the Innocence Project. “It is our strong hope that now that the veil that had shielded police misconduct from public view has been lifted, countless injustices, including wrongful convictions, can be prevented. This is only one ingredient of authentic accountability but it is the first, crucial step, in bringing some justice to a system that previously prevented it.”
To continue the push for police reform nationwide, numerous experts and witnesses testified on June 10 in a House Judiciary Committee hearing about policing practices and law enforcement accountability. George Floyd’s brother testified before Congress on as part of that hearing.
George Floyd’s family spoke out against police brutality at a June 10 hearing. George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told the hearing, “I was reminded of that when I watched the video of his murder. He called all of the officers ‘sir.’ He was mild mannered. He didn’t fight back. He listened to all the officers. The man who took his life, who suffocated him for eight minutes and 46 seconds, he still called him ‘sir’ as he begged for his life.”
In his testimony, he urged the committee to listen to “the call” for change from both Floyd’s family and protestors around the country, “George’s name means something. You have the opportunity here to make your names mean something, too. If his death ends up changing the world for the better. And I think it will. Then he died as he lived. It is on you to make sure his death isn’t in vain,” he said.
National Urban League President Marc Morial told Congress during the hearing that this was, “An opportunity at a historic time in American history as to whether this nation’s elected representatives will hear the pain, hear the cries, hear the suffering, hear the outrage and realize this is not the time for a de minimis, backroom, Washington political compromise. This is a moment not of politics, not of black or white, but of morality.”
House Judiciary Committee committee chair Jerry Nadler opened the hearing saying, “It is the responsibility and the obligation of the House Judiciary Committee to do everything in our power to help deliver that change for the American people.”
Protests over the death of George Floyd and police brutality continued across the country.
Read all our coverage on the protests against racism in One Green Planet:
- #BlackLivesMatter: 10 Inspiring Black Voices Diversifying the Environmental Movement
- #BlackLivesMatter: Protests Against Police Brutality Continue in Full Force Across the Country
- #BlackLivesMatter: Killing Black Americans is a Public Health and Human Rights Crisis
- #BlackLivesMatter: Black Climate Activists Share their Struggles Amid Protests
- #BlackLivesMatter: George Floyd’s Memorial Service and Updates on Other Cases
- #BlackLivesMatter: Minneapolis City Council Pledges to Defund and Dismantle Police
- #BlackLivesMatter: Protestors Continue to Press for Defunding Police Departments and What That Means
Here’s what you can do:
Also, remember to register to vote if you haven’t already. This is one of the simplest ways to make your voice heard as a citizen.Here are some resources for you:
Places to Donate:
- Donate to Black Lives Matter here.
- Get involved with your local BLM chapter: The full list is here or start your own.
- Many protestors are getting arrested and being held. Donate to bail funds in your city, here or here.
- HBCUBuzz has a listing of lawyers and legal resources for protestors, organized by state.
- Resources and donations by the National Police Accountability Project.
- Learn about Campaign Zero, which works to end police violence in America.
- The New York Times has put together an anti-racist reading list.
- National Black Bailout Fund, which works towards ending systems of mass incarceration and freeing imprisoned black mothers.
- Visit Louisville Community Bail Fund to contribute towards bail for protesters in Louisville.
Petitions to Sign:
- Justice for George Floyd
- Petition to end medical racism
- Justice for Breonna Taylor
- Justice for Ahmaud Arbery
- Justice for Tony McDade, Black trans man killed by police
- Sign the “Justice for George Floyd” petition on Change.org
- Color of Change launched a petition asking that all the officers involved in Floyd’s death are brought to justice.
For a more extensive resource list, please see the collection put together by Black Lives Matter.
Through this grief and anger, we must unite and work together to create the change we want to see. Let’s make sure no black child has to ever say these heartbreaking words ever again.
If you’re attending a protest, please be safe and careful and maintain social distancing, if possible.