The Week (US)
Little change in policing one year after Floyd’s death
One year after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, demonstrators returned to streets nationwide this week to mark the somber anniversary of Floyd’s death and renew calls for police reform. President Biden spent an hour at the White House with members of Floyd’s family, conceding that he’d failed to meet his goal of signing a federal police reform bill that bears Floyd’s name by the May 25 anniversary. The bill—which would ban chokeholds, create a national police misconduct registry, and limit the sale of militarygrade equipment to local law enforcement—passed the House in March but is stalled in the Senate, where it needs to gain at least 10 GOP votes to become law. Republicans have steadfastly rejected a provision to end qualified immunity—a legal protection that shields police from most civil misconduct claims—for individual officers, proposing this week to allow civil lawsuits against police departments as a whole.
Floyd’s sister Bridgett skipped the White House meeting to address a Minneapolis protest. “There’s been a lot of names added to the list after my brother’s death,” she said, “and still nothing is being done.” Police have killed about three people per day this year, roughly on par with last year’s daily average; 89 of those killed have been Black. Among them was Andrew Brown Jr., who died in April in Elizabeth City, N.C., after police officers in fired 13 times at Brown’s car as he tried to flee from an arrest. Prosecutors last week said the shooting, “while tragic,” was “justified.”
What the columnists said
Floyd’s death was supposed to inspire a “racial reckoning,” said Jennifer Chudy and Hakeem Jefferson in NYTimes.com. Did it? Even former President Trump, after watching video of Floyd’s killing, said, “It doesn’t get any worse than that.” But though backing of the Black Lives Matter movement surged last summer, “support eventually plunged” among whites, falling below where it stood before the protests. More than 30 states imposed new rules limiting police tactics, but Republicans have stonewalled true reform.
The real consequence of the “Floyd riots’’ was to give criminals an “open season,’’ said Heather Mac Donald in The Wall Street Journal. With police demoralized and depleted, violence “jumped nationwide.” Homicides rose 50 percent in Chicago last year, 46 percent in New York City, and 38 percent in Los Angeles, where 350 murders marked the highest tally in more than a decade. In Minneapolis, which lost 200-plus cops, 19 children have been shot this year. “Their relatives wonder where the protesters are.”
“America’s national reckoning on race still has a long way to go,” said Daniel Payne in Politico.com, but Floyd’s death has had a “sustained and historically significant” impact. From corporations to classrooms, Americans are more committed to addressing inequality. A poll last month found that most white Americans believe the justice system is biased against Black people and “more needs to be done to hold police accountable.” As Floyd’s young daughter Gianna told Biden, “Daddy changed the world.”