police reform

Community Leaders Say Justice Was Served, But Action Needed on Federal Level

The raw emotions on the street after the verdict was read have now turned into motivation to put more laws on the books

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Seeing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin get taken away in handcuffs had George Floyd’s family and President Joe Biden saying justice was done, but they also say the next step is in a police reform bill from Washington.

In South Florida, community leaders say Congress needs to take action on a federal level. But can that become reality? 

In the neighborhoods NBC 6 was in Wednesday, there is a sense of justice with the way the verdict went but a sense of reality too about the overwhelming evidence and that video present against Chauvin.

The raw emotions on the street after the verdict was read have now turned into motivation to put more laws on the books to prevent what happened to Floyd from happening in communities across the U.S. and in South Florida.

“It was a victory for justice," said Richard Dunn, a longtime pastor at Faith Community Baptist Church and a former Miami City Commissioner.

Dunn’s son Brandon also serves as pastor and the very communities where their congregation lives worry just how any day could be impacted by an encounter with law enforcement.

“You want to be optimistic as possible but you also want to be as realistic as possible," Brandon Dunn said.

Both say they are all behind the call from Biden Tuesday evening for Congress to approve the George Floyd Justice and Police Reform Act.  

“George’s legacy is not just about his death but what we must do in his memory.” the president said when addressing the nation. 

Biden also spoke about a conversation he had with Floyd’s daughter after her father was killed and how it motivates him.  

“She said to me then, I’ll never forget it: 'Daddy changed the world,'" Biden recalled. “We need meaningful police reform legislation in his name.”

The legislation named in George Floyd’s honor would lower the standard required to prosecute police officers for misconduct, give the Justice Department the ability to get its hands on more records, and limit the legal protection officers have in some civil cases.

“It’s a wonderful initiative because now what it does it puts in place legislatively, having been a former Miami City Commissioner legislator I understand how powerful and impactful legislation is," Richard Dunn said. "It puts a rule of law and that’s what’s needed.”

The measure has passed the House and is stuck in the Senate that issue over officer immunity a big sticking point.  

“Republicans and Democrats do agree that there has to be police reform to prevent abuse and some of the police brutality that we see from time to time and in some communities for often than not. The question is how far do we go," NBC 6 Political Analyst Carlos Curbelo said. “Republicans think if they go too far, it becomes an anti-police bill and Democrats really want to be as ambitious and aggressive as possible.”  

The funding of military-style equipment to police departments is one sticking point. Curbelo says, though, there is one bigger.  

“The big point of disagreement is over a point called qualified immunity,” Curbelo said. 

Sen. Marco Rubio’s office said he has been for police reforms backing legislation by South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s press officer sent us a statement saying,” The murder of George Floyd was tragic and unacceptable. Yesterday’s verdict shows that our justice system works to hold accountable those who violate the law. Senator Scott supports reforms that enhance accountability for bad actors in law enforcement and improve safety for all Americans. That’s why he supported Senator Tim Scott’s Justice Act last year, which the Democrats filibustered and blocked. Senator Scott remains hopeful that Democrats will actually come to the table and work with Republicans to make necessary reforms. What Senator Scott will not support is efforts by the radical Left to defund the police and use the crimes of a few bad actors to demonize good, hard-working police officers in Florida.”

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