U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, on Thursday, June 11 delivered a speech from the Senate floor in Washington, D.C., voicing support for the Justice in Policing Act, new legislation from Sens. Kamala Harris, D-California and Corey Booker, D-New Jersey, which would begin to address police brutality across the country.
“I come to the floor today because our nation has to change—because the people are demanding it and I believe each of us, especially those of us privileged enough to serve in the United States Senate, is responsible for being part of the solution,” Murray said.
The legislation, which is cosponsored by Murray and was also introduced in the House, would institute a number of meaningful reforms, according to a Murray news release, including:
· putting a national ban on chokeholds and other tactics that have left Black people dead,
· creating a national use of force standard,
· limiting the transfer of military weaponry and equipment to police departments,
· creating a National Registry for Police Misconduct,
· ending qualified immunity to hold law enforcement accountable for violating Constitutional rights,
· making lynching a federal crime,
· efforts to encourage more independent investigations into police misconduct, and more.
“[The Justice in Policing Act] is action that we can start taking now to begin ensuring justice and accountability in our laws and in law enforcement and, hopefully, help put us on a path that can begin to heal our nation’s deep wounds,” Murray said. “Because while we need to pass legislation to address police brutality, we can’t stop there. The Justice in Policing Act is the first of many steps we must take in Congress to help reset our nation’s moral compass.”
During the speech, Murray highlighted the importance of responding to recent urgent calls to address police brutality, and also emphasized her commitment to transformative solutions across a broad array of policy areas in order to end systemic racism in America—especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues disproportionally impacting Black communities and people of color.
In addition to the Justice in Policing Act, Senator Murray last week cosponsored the Police Training and Independent Review Act, which would incentivize training for law enforcement officials on fair and impartial policing, and encourage independent, impartial investigations into law enforcement officials’ use of deadly force.
On May 29, Murray issued a statement calling for federal investigations into the recent killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery—all unarmed Black people—and on June 4, the senator called for an independent investigation into the killing of Manuel Ellis, an unarmed Black man killed by police in Tacoma.