FILE - In this June 10, 2020, file photo, Philonise Floyd, a brother of George Floyd, speaks with civil rights attorney Ben Crump, right, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP, File)

FILE - In this June 10, 2020, file photo, Philonise Floyd, a brother of George Floyd, speaks with civil rights attorney Ben Crump, right, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP, File)

VIDEO: Floyd family meets with Biden as Congress mulls police bill

George Floyd’s death sparked a global reckoning over racism and growing calls for police reform

The anniversary of George Floyd’s death was supposed to a milestone moment, a time to celebrate passage of legislation to “root out systemic racism” in the criminal justice system, in the words of President Joe Biden. Instead, Floyd’s family visited Washington on Tuesday to mourn with Biden and prod legislators to act as they commemorate the loss of their brother, father and son one year ago.

Floyd’s death sparked a global reckoning over racism and growing calls for police reform, but a legislative response has been elusive. Still, congressional negotiators remain optimistic about the prospects for a bill, and say they’ve made progress toward an agreement this week.

It’s a high-profile legislative fight where Biden has notably taken a back seat, preferring to leave the work of crafting a compromise to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, in contrast to his fevered advocacy, both public and private, for his infrastructure bill and the COVID-19 relief package.

The Floyd family will have multiple opportunities to weigh in on the congressional efforts Tuesday. In addition to their visit to the White House, the Floyd family was meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Karen Bass, the lead House negotiator on the policing bill, as well as key senators.

While Biden set the anniversary of Floyd’s death as the initial deadline for legislation to reach his desk, the issue of police reform is a particularly politically thorny one. Congressional negotiators have struggled to find a compromise that can make it through an evenly-divided Senate.

Still, speaking on Tuesday on CNN, Philonese Floyd, Floyd’s brother, expressed optimism at the chances for an eventual bill to pass the Senate. “I think things have changed. I think it is moving slowly but we are making progress,” he said.

He spoke, too, to the gravity of the day for the Floyd family, saying his sister had called him just past midnight to tell him, “This is the day our brother left us.”

Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer called on Biden to “reiterate that we need to get it passed.”

It’s in line with the sentiment shared by many criminal justice advocates, who say the onus is on Congress, not the president, to act.

“It’s absolutely vital that members of Congress put partisan politics aside and pass meaningful reform to hold police officers responsible who act outside of their oath to protect and defend,” said Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in a statement to the AP.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020 after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes, while Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked months of nationwide protests focused on systemic racism and a renewed debate over police reform in the U.S. Chauvin was convicted last month on multiple charges stemming from Floyd’s death.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would ban chokeholds by federal officers and end qualified immunity for law enforcement against civil lawsuits, as well as create national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability. It passed the House in March, but faces a much tougher road in the evenly-divided Senate.

On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House still sees the George Floyd Act as the appropriate vessel for police reform. She added, “What we’ve seen from the negotiators — and we’ve been in close touch with the negotiators as well — is that they still feel there is progress being made.”

White House advisers say Biden and his team have been in frequent touch with Capitol Hill negotiators over the legislation, but that this is an issue in which a high-profile public campaign by the president may do more harm than good, because of the political challenges surrounding the bill.

The biggest point of contention remains the issue of ending qualified immunity, which shields officers from legal action taken by victims and their families for alleged civil rights violations.

While progressives and many criminal justice reform advocates are insistent that it remain in the final version of the bill, some Democrats, most notably House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, have said they could see a compromise on the issue. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wouldn’t support any bill that ends qualified immunity.

Congressional negotiators are largely staying tight-lipped on the details of a compromise, but they’ve been working near daily on their efforts to hammer out a bill, and this week some sounded optimistic about its future. Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who has been working with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey to hammer out a compromise, said Monday that “I think we’re starting to see a frame” for the final legislation.

“We had good progress over the weekend, I thought. And I think we can see the end of the tunnel,” he said.

On qualified immunity, Scott’s proposal would allow individuals to pursue legal action against police departments instead of individual officers, as a compromise, but it’s unclear if advocacy groups would get behind such a proposal.

Booker echoed Scott’s comments on CNN, saying he was “encouraged” and that “I’m really hopeful that we can get something done in the weeks ahead, not months.”

Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press

racism

Just Posted

(double-click to edit)
Daryl Jolly, his wife Kerry Pagdin, their sons Cole Jolly (left) and Graeme Jolly, and their dogs Gracie and Clover. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College arts chair diagnosed with lung cancer, family launches fund drive

In mid-May, Daryl Jolly developed a chest cough and started feeling fatigued.… Continue reading

TELUS is proposing to construct a 5G tower at Pople Park. Photo: Sheri Regnier
First 5G tower in Trail proposed for placement in popular park

TELUS has a consultation process open until June 28

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Most Read