On July 13, 2013, nearly 7 years ago, the Black Lives Matter movement began. The movement protests the racial disparities and police brutality African-Americans face in America. Since the protest started 7 years ago there hasn’t been a lot done to help or solve the issues of the Black community. After the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 at the hands of a police officer there was public out cry for justice, resulting in widespread protests and a few looting incidents. It was because of the daily protest around the world in the midst of a pandemic, online advocating, and overall unity that helped to make such an impact.
Ban on Neck Restraints: One of the most widespread changes was the ban on most forms of neck restraints. Almost all major cities, most states, and even other countries have implemented this change. There are two main types of neck restraints: the chokehold and the stranglehold. The goal of these restraints is to cut off blood flow to the brain and render the subject unconscious. But if the user of the restraint doesn’t use it properly, they can kill the subject.
Duty to Intervene: In some cities such as Chattanooga, Tennessee and Cambridge, Massachusetts, police officers are required to intervene when they witness other authority figures use excessive force. If they fail to do so they will face disciplinary action and/or criminal prosecution.
Increased Transparency: New York repealed a decades-old law that kept law enforcement disciplinary records hidden from the public, and would make those records available to the masses. Along with bills that would provide state troopers with body cameras and ensure that officers provide medical attention to people within custody. This would include releasing body camera footage and require in-depth comprehensive reporting in the cases of fatal incidents. Specifically in Washington, D.C. body cam footage must be released within 72 hours and the officers involved are not allowed to watch or alter the footage.
Better Training and More Education: In Washington D.C., the D.C. council passed a policing reform bill that will require officers to undergo training on racism and white supremacy. The community colleges in California and Virginia announced plans to review their training programs for law enforcement. The Albany Police Department will require its officers to learn about racism in the United States and its impact on society.
Defunding the Police: Defunding the police is one of the most wide spread demands of people in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM). Many sites have pledged to reallocate funding from their police departments to health care, social services, education, and more. The goal of this is to prevent the reasons people resort to crime such as a need for funds, food, and access to education. In addition to having more skilled social workers de-escalate situations before they turn to violence. Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles vowed to pull $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said there would be new sweeping sets of reforms that would shift funding for the New York Police Department (NYPD). Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston announced that the city would reallocate $15 million from its police funding to community programs. In San Francisco, supervisor Shamann Walton released his own plans to move funds from the police department and directly to Black communities. Below is a visual for the police budgets and cuts in different cities.
Increased Awareness: Due to the increased media coverage on the BLM Movement many people are having the difficult, and often avoided, conversations with family and friends, acknowledging their own biases. More people are no longer willing to just sit back while the injustices continue.
Other Types of Reform: The Louisville Metro Council on June 11 voted to pass a ban on no-knock warrants that would be known as “Breanna’s Law,” which was named after Breonna Taylor who was shot and killed while she was asleep in her own home during a raid. In San Francisco, police will no longer respond to calls for “non-criminal activity.” The Ohio Mayors Alliance has created a Police Reform Network that would address racial biases statewide. Even some schools, partially in Minneapolis, have ended their contracts with police departments. Because of this, police departments will lose millions of dollars and have a limited presence within schools.
These reforms are just the beginning. Even though not every state has passed bills that will enforce change, every state is at least planning on making some form of change. While this is not perfect it is one step closer to ending the racial disparities with the United States. At times like this it is easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged with information constantly being shoved in your face through the news, social media, and more. It is important that we never lose sight of the goal and keep fighting! If you want to join this fight there’s a plethora of things that you can do to help such as going to BLM protest, signing petitions that help fight the injustices, call/text/email your local officials demanding they put legislation in place to fight police brutality, and if you can donate to organizations that are activitely helping the cause (NAACP, Reclaim the Block, Black Lives Matter, etc.) It may be hard but making change is never easy.
Below is a chart that details which states are implanting changes and what type. It’s important to note two things: at least one city had to have the change listed to be marked, and the states that are in the process of passing legislation were not counted; only states that had officially passed legislation were counted.