Key Words: George Floyd’s family lawyer Ben Crump: ‘It’s been 57 years since we’ve had meaningful police reform’


George Floyd’s family and their attorney, Ben Crump, had a busy schedule on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death under the knee of a now-convicted police officer.

The family met with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

In a SiriusXM interview with host Joe Madison, Crump said they would be relaying a single message in every meeting:

‘What we hope to do at all of those meetings, is to continue to say, “Let’s don’t lose this moment.” It’s been 57 years since we’ve had meaningful police reform. And this is our moment to finally pass some federal legislation with teeth in it.’

— Floyd family attorney Ben Crump

Fifty-seven years ago was 1964, the year the Civil Rights Act became law. The landmark legislation, among other things, outlawed race-based discrimination.

The Floyd family’s trip to the White House and Capitol Hill happened as the final outcome of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was yet to be determined.

The House of Representatives passed the police reform bill in March. Biden urged the Senate to pass it by Tuesday in order to mark the day, but Republicans have signaled misgivings.

The bill, among other things, would limit the use of a legal doctrine called qualified immunity.

The Floyd family’s trip to the White House and Capitol Hill happened as the final outcome of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was yet to be determined.

The legal defense against civil lawsuits makes it too hard for plaintiffs to prevail in police-brutality cases, advocates say. Crump previously told MarketWatch that case law sets the standard too high.

The bill would also ban federal law-enforcement officers from using chokeholds and authorizes federal funding to state and local authorities so long as they ban chokeholds. Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, pinned by the neck under police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes.

Crump and the Floyd family spoke to reporters after meeting with Biden and Harris. Crump told reporters that the president said he “doesn’t want to sign a bill that doesn’t have substance and meaning, so he is going to be patient.”

Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told news outlets that if the federal government can pass laws protecting bald eagles, “you can make federal laws to protect people of color.”

Recent history shows Republicans and Democrats can come together on criminal justice reform. In December 2018, then-President Donald Trump enacted the bipartisan First Step Act. The law, among other things, shortens the mandatory minimums on non-violent drug convictions.

Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, was one of the lawmakers Crump and the Floyd family were scheduled to meet Tuesday. Scott released a joint statement with Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat from California, marking the anniversary.

Last month, a Minnesota jury found former Minneapolis police officer Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced in June and has moved for a new trial.

Ahead of the trial, the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay Floyd’s family $27 million to settle the family’s lawsuit.

In a YouGov survey, 60% of participants said the verdict was fair, while 22% disagreed and another 18% had no opinion.

Some 55% said the outcome will result in more police accountability and 45% say it will not change anything; 51% say the verdict will not change race relations, but 24% say things will get better and 24% say relations will deteriorate.

In a different survey, 42% of Americans said race relations are more strained now than one year ago — however, that’s the lowest response rate to the question since 2015.

During the Tuesday radio interview, Crump said the events of one year ago would be the catalyst for reform.

“It will be George Floyd’s sacred blood that was spilled that will finally get police reform passed in America that is meaningful, to prevent some of these Black people from unjustly being killed by the police over and over again,” he said.

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