Congressional Democrats plan to unveil legislation today that would address systemic racial discrimination by police including a ban on no-knock warrants in drugs cases, according to an Axios report. The plan comes amid global protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis, Minnesota police. Protestors are also calling for justice for Breonna Taylor who was killed by Louisville, Kentucky police during a no-knock drug raid at her home on March 13.
According to a 2015 Vox analysis, law enforcement agencies conduct more than 20,000 no-knock raids per year. The practice was greenlit by the federal government in the 1970s – as the war on drugs was being ramped up in the nation and despite the law allowing no-knock raids being repealed in the 1980s, several court decisions carved out sets of circumstances that allow no-knock raids. A 2017 investigation by the New York Times found that from 2010 to 2016, at least 81 civilians and 13 officers died during SWAT-led no-knock raids, and half of the civilians killed were minorities. Additionally, of those subjected to SWAT no-knock warrants, 42 percent were Black and 12 percent were Hispanic and at least seven federal lawsuits against officers who participated in no-knock warrants have been settled for more than $1 million since 2011.
“Persistent, unchecked bias in policing and a history of lack of accountability is wreaking havoc on the black community. Cities are literally on fire with the pain and anguish wrought by the violence visited upon black and brown bodies.” – House and Senate Democrats in an email to colleagues on Friday accompanying the bill summary, via the New York Times
The reform effort is being led by Rep. Karen Bass of California, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, the only two Black Democrats in the Senate. They cited the deaths of Floyd and Taylor as the impetus behind the legislation.
In addition to ending the practice of no-knock raids, the bill would restrict “qualified immunity” which limits lawsuits over police killings, reform police training, make lynching a federal crime, and ban chokeholds by officers.
House Democrats hope to pass the measure by the end of the month.
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