Leonard Greene: Without police brutality bill, George Floyd, Tyre Nichols deaths are in vain

You would think that after what happened in Memphis, legislators would be tripping over themselves to get to the House floor to pass a new law that promises real police reform.

Let’s recap: A motorist was brutally beaten to death last month by a group of rogue cops who blatantly abandoned their pledge to protect and serve.

They punched Tyre Nichols. They kicked him. They shot Tasers at him. They pumped pepper spray in his face, and they cursed him.

They had body cameras on, and didn’t stop. They stood under a marked surveillance camera, and took turns slugging him in the face while he begged them to stop, and called out for his mother.

And when they were done kicking and punching, and pepper spraying and cursing, they dragged Nichols along the cold, hard sidewalk, propped him against a parked car, and did nothing to ease his pain.

That’s what Congress is doing right now.

Every day that goes by without passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is like having members of Congress shamelessly standing under the clearly-marked surveillance camera at Castlegate Lane and doing nothing.

“We need to take some action because there should be no other child that should suffer the way my son did and all the other parents here who’ve lost their children,” Nichols’ mother RowVaughn Wells, said at her son’s funeral last week.

“We need to get that bill passed because if we don’t, that blood — the next child that dies — that blood is going to be on their hands.”

The front page of the New York Daily News on April 21, 2021.

The bill, which addresses racial profiling and use of deadly police force, was passed by the Democrat-controlled House in 2021 but stalled in the Senate over the issue of qualified immunity for cops, as if the general public doesn’t qualify for being immune from being abused by police officers.

The proposed law would also ban no-knock warrants in federal drug cases. Police used a no-knock warrant in 2020 when they forced their way into a home in Louisville, Kentucky, and killed Breonna Taylor.

“We demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” Vice President Harris said at Nichols’ funeral. “Joe Biden will sign it. We should not delay, and we shall not be denied. It is nonnegotiable.”

President Biden met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus to assure them he hasn’t given up on the fight.

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To illustrate his commitment, Biden invited Nichols’ mother and stepfather to Washington D.C. for his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

The president said his hope was that “this dark memory spurs some action that we’ve all been fighting for.”

This image from video released on Jan. 27, 2023, by the City of Memphis, shows Tyre Nichols leaning against a car after he was beaten by five Memphis, Tenn. police officers on Jan. 7, 2023. Nichols died on Jan. 10.

But some legislators aren’t so optimistic.

“I think the president is missing the opportunity to be a historic president when it comes to the social issues that continue to plague our country,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, (D-N.Y.). “That’s what we need.”

“The solution,” Bowman said, is not “thoughts and prayers, come to the State of the Union after your kid gets killed.”

The whole point of naming the bill after George Floyd, who mercilessly died under the knee of a Minnesota cop in 2020, sparking a social justice reckoning across America, was so that Floyd’s death would not be in vain.

So far, it has been.

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