Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12) delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
Mr./Madam Speaker, today I rise to speak in support of H. R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Bill.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.
Too many of our neighbors have died at the hands of law enforcement.
Valuable people, Beloved people, who were siblings, coworkers, parishioners, members of our communities, parents, children, grandchildren, are now hashtags. They’re household names who would all trade that fame for just one more day with their friends, families, and loved ones.
Across the country we’ve learned too many names, but not as many people know their ages:
Walter Scott was fifty
Tony McDade was thirty-eight
Alton Sterling was thirty-seven
Philando Castile was thirty-two
Sandra Bland was twenty-eight
Breonna Taylor was twenty-six
Botham Jean was twenty-six
Freddie Gray was twenty-five
Ahmaud Arbery was twenty-five
Stephon Clark was twenty-two
Michael Brown was eighteen
Laquan McDonald was seventeen
Tamir Rice was twelve
Aiyana Stanley-Jones was just seven
In Mecklenburg County, in my district, we have too many names, over 50 since the year 2000. People of every race and background:
Keith Lamont Scott was forty-three
Rueben Galindo was twenty-nine
Danquirs Franklin was twenty-seven
Clay McCall was twenty-six
Jonathan Ferrell was twenty-four
Darryl Turner was seventeen
LaQuan Brown was sixteen.
Since January 1, 2015 at least 155 people have been shot and killed by police in my home state of North Carolina, and at least 5,428 people have been shot and killed by police across the United States.
David McAtee, fifty-three, was killed by the Kentucky National Guard while protesting these injustices.
Eric Garner, forty-three, and George Floyd, forty-six, were put in chokeholds.
They begged they couldn’t breathe.
Imagine how many of these killings didn’t have to happen. Imagine how many years of life we could give back to these men, women, and children.
Imagine what God will say to us on Judgment Day if we fail to act.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is our first step to righting these wrongs.
Importantly, the bill bans chokeholds, so that a death like George Floyd’s or Eric Garner’s never has to happen again.
Additionally, it will force police departments nationwide to reexamine the use of chemical agents like tear gas, bringing us closer to a day when protesters exercising their constitutional right won’t choke, both figuratively and literally, on injustice.
It was a tragedy that George Floyd will, in the words of Roxie Washington, never get to walk his daughter down the aisle. But like their six-year-old daughter Gianna said, “Daddy changed the world.”
Let’s do right by Gianna. Let’s make good on her promise of change.
Pass the Justice in Policing Act today.
Thank you, and I yield back.
Fact Sheet on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act:
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. The Justice in Policing Act would: 1) establish a national standard for the operation of police departments; 2) mandate data collection on police encounters; 3) reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs; and 4) streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 will:
Work to End Racial & Religious Profiling
Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling.
Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities.
Save Lives by Banning Chokeholds & No-Knock Warrants
Bans chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds.
Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level.
Requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first. Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.” Condition grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.
Limit Military Equipment on American Streets & Requires Body Cameras
Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.
Hold Police Accountable in Court
Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard.
Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.
Investigate Police Misconduct
Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
Empower Our Communities to Reimagine Public Safety in an Equitable and Just Way
This bill reinvests in our communities by supporting critical community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
It establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just and equitable public safety approaches. These local commissions would operate similar to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Change the Culture of Law Enforcement with Training to Build Integrity and Trust
Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
Improve Transparency by Collecting Data on Police Misconduct and Use-of-Force
Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
Stop Sexual Assault in Law Enforcement Custody
Makes it a crime for a federal law enforcement officer to engage in a sexual act with an individual who is under arrest, in detention, or in custody. It prohibits consent as a defense to prosecution for unlawful conduct. Incentivizes states to set the same standards.
Congresswoman Alma Adams represents North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District (Charlotte) and serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture. Additionally, she serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Education & Labor Committee, where she serves as Chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. In 2015, she founded the Adams Hunger Initiative to address food insecurity across Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and the 12th Congressional District.