Republicans mark anniversary of George Floyd’s death by working to weaken police reform bill

When we talk about George Floyd, himself, remember this always:

xHe was not just a victim. His death was not just a catalyst for activism and protests.#GeorgeFloyd was a man. A father. A brother. A friend. His life mattered. Sending love & light to his family and loved ones today. pic.twitter.com/LkKwPAyQRx— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) May 25, 2021

On this day, members of Floyd’s family are meeting with President Joe Biden, a man who has always kept that humanity in mind—but whose push to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed by this anniversary has run into Republican obstruction. Negotiations over some police reform legislation continue in the Senate, but the Republican price for maybe possibly passing something is to water it down, especially by protecting qualified immunity for police.

“While we are still working through our differences on key issues, we continue to make progress toward a compromise and remain optimistic about the prospects of achieving that goal,” the three lawmakers leading negotiations—Rep. Karen Bass, Sen. Cory Booker, and Republican Sen. Tim Scott—said in a statement Monday. An unnamed “high-ranking Democrat” told The Grio’s April Ryan that Republicans are holding things up as they seek buy-in from police groups.

And while Republican lawmakers often lag behind their voters on key issues—uniting in opposition to the American Rescue Plan or to some of the most popular parts of Biden’s infrastructure and jobs plan, for instance, while rank-and-file Republicans are strongly in support of those things—white Republican voters are actively opposed to the fight for racial justice. They’re the party of racial grievance, and the grievance they hold is that white people don’t have enough power. It’s absurd on any factual level, but that’s where the Republican Party is.

So there’s work to be done, and the surge of support for the basic idea that Black lives matter that followed Floyd’s killing has died down at least in that one corner of white Republicans. But the need for serious police reform—at a bare minimum—remains urgent. Lives are literally at stake: “If they would have passed bills before this, my son would have been here right now,” Katie Wright, the mother of Daunte Wright, said Monday. “My son would have been here. George Floyd would have been here.”

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