Home > News > What Matters: It’s been 2 months since George Floyd’s death. Here’s what has and hasn’t changed.

What Matters: It’s been 2 months since George Floyd’s death. Here’s what has and hasn’t changed.

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The intervening two months have seen a remarkable cultural embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was featured on the mound at Nationals Park on the opening day of Major League Baseball.

But we haven’t seen sweeping national reforms or structural changes — and now President Donald Trump appears to banking on backlash to help him get reelected.

Here’s where change has (and hasn’t) happened since Floyd’s death.

State and local progress

  • Minneapolis has banned the use of police neck restraints, as have Washington, DC, Chicago and Denver — among other cities and states.
  • The Dallas Police Department adopted a “duty to intervene” rule requiring fellow officers to intervene if someone is using excessive force.
  • Pennsylvania signed a pair of police reform bills into law, including background checks requiring officers seeking new positions to reveal previous employment records.
  • Colorado passed police accountability legislation to create new officer requirements including body cameras and limits on using deadly force.

Federal stalemate

Police reform legislation in Congress fell apart when Senate Democrats lined up to block a Republican measure that they called an inadequate response to nationwide calls for action.

The GOP plan had a major emphasis on incentivizing states to take action, while the Democratic plan focuses on setting national standards, such as mandates for federal uniformed officers to wear body cameras and banning chokeholds.

The Republican proposal did not include an outright ban on chokeholds, something Democrats pushed for.

Is there a chance legislation will proceed? Maybe. Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the architect of the GOP’s failed police reform bill, said earlier this month that he was talking to senior House Democrats and moving closer to a potential deal.

Scott said he had moved back to the “drawing board” on the bill, and pointed toward a proposal to gather data on incidents of racial profiling by police as one area of newly found common ground with Democrats.

He also said that victims of police abuse and their families should have a greater ability to sue police departments and cities for wrongdoing — a slight moderation of the qualified immunity principle, which had been one of the insurmountable gulfs between the parties last month.

“Folks who are now calling me about the legislation from the other side suggest that perhaps it’s not dead,” Scott said. “We may have a Lazarus moment, we may not.”

On the other side of the cultural divide is Sen. Tom Cotton. The Arkansas Republican has a proposal to ban federal funding for schools that teach the 1619 curriculum, which is meant to raise awareness about the taint of slavery and its generational impact.

Trump’s executive order

In June, Trump signed an executive order that, among other things, created a federal database of police officers with histories of using excessive force.

The order also directs the secretary of health and human services to encourage police departments to embed mental health professionals in their responses to calls related to mental health, homelessness and addiction as well as to find resources to help police departments hire mental health co-responders.

But the step is relatively muted when it comes to the sweeping police reforms that have been discussed by members of both parties.

For example, it does not restrict funding to police departments that don’t meet federal standards.

Presidential campaign

Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have met the moment in different ways. The President has turned increasingly to “law and order” themes as he works to portray Biden as weak on crime.

Trump’s effort began in early June and has only intensified in recent days as he’s vowed to “surge” federal law enforcement officers to Chicago and other American cities, despite resistance from local leaders.

Biden, for his part, has said decisions about local police budgets should depend on the needs of particular communities, since some departments have too many officers and some don’t have enough.

In an extensive set of policy recommendations crafted alongside allies of Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden’s campaign calls for national use of force standards for law enforcement, among other progressive aims.

“Democrats believe we need to overhaul the criminal justice system from top to bottom. Police brutality is a stain on the soul of our nation. It is unacceptable that millions of people in our country have good reason to fear they may lose their lives in a routine traffic stop, or while standing on a street corner, or while playing with a toy in a public park,” the task force’s members wrote.

“It is unacceptable that Black parents must have ‘The Talk’ with their children, to try to protect them from the very police officers who are supposed to be sworn to protect and serve them.”

Biden has also said he is considering four Black women to be his running mate.

“I am not committed to naming any (of the potential candidates), but the people I’ve named, and among them there are four Black women,” he told MSNBC’s Joy Reid on “The ReidOut” earlier this month.

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