PLBC responds to Chauvin guilty verdict
Lawmakers call for continued action on policing and ending systemic racism in public policy
HARRISBURG, April 21 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today called for continued action on policing and ending systemic racism after a jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges filed against him for the May 2020 murder of George Floyd.
“The conviction of Derek Chauvin on all charges against him for the murder of George Floyd brings justice to George and his family, though my heart remains heavy,” said state Rep. Donna Bullock, chairwoman of the PLBC. “The more than nine and a half minutes Chauvin spent disregarding and taking the life of a Black man laid bare the truth of policing of Black and Brown people in America.
“This heinous and very public crime against George Floyd at the hands and knee of Chauvin and the surrounding officers who did nothing to stop it was by no means an isolated incident of police brutality on people of color, but its raw and visible reality marked a point in our history where people who did not once see or believe, now see and believe. The verdict in this case gives me relief, but the families of Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo and many others are still waiting on this kind of justice. We need to continue to work together to bring about the change the PLBC, our Police Reform Working Group and lawmakers across the nation have been working toward for years,” she said.
PLBC Vice Chair Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, said dismantling and rebuilding the systems that perpetuate injustice is what it will take to achieve justice.
“Justice is not a here nor there occurrence. It’s not an event, or a verdict, or a single piece of legislation. Justice is dismantling the systems of white supremacy that perpetuate inequality and injustice through the abuse of power,” Lee said. “To call yesterday’s verdict ‘bittersweet’ is an understatement – nothing will change the fact that a man was brutally murdered by the state, and then, at almost the same time the verdict in his killer’s case was being decided, the state murdered another Black child. Nothing has ‘changed’, and nothing will ‘change’ until we dismantle the current system and rebuild it to address the inequality and injustices that are baked into it.”
Last summer the legislature passed, and Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation to improve police training and accountability in Pennsylvania by mandating that police offers undergo PTSD evaluation after resorting to lethal force and by creating a database that tracks disciplinary actions searchable by law enforcement agencies evaluating prospective hires. The lawmakers say it is now time for the state to directly tackle other initiatives that center on police accountability, solutions to racial and gender bias in police systems and reductions in incidents of police violence against Black and Brown communities.
They said policing legislation remains one of their key priorities this legislative session. Some of the bills that address these important issues include:
- H.B. 1086 (Reps. Bullock and Brian Sims) – Requiring police officers statewide to have their badge, with pertinent identifiable information, visible at all times without exception.
- H.B.s 1198, 1199 (Reps. Ed Gainey and Morgan Cephas) – False reports to law enforcement package.
- H.B. 533 (Rep. Austin Davis) – Citizens Police Review Board.
- H.B. 870 (Rep. Stephen Kinsey) – Banning chokeholds and positional asphyxia by law enforcement.
- H.B. 626 (Reps. Dan Miller and Austin Davis) Transparency in recording law enforcement.
- H.B. 676 (Reps. Brian Sims and Summer Lee) Special prosecutor for police deadly force cases.
- S.B. 45 (Sen. Vincent Hughes) – Create a more explicit and just standard for the use of force by police.
- S.B. 105 (Sen. Sharif Street) – Demilitarize local law enforcement agencies.
Additional policing bills to be introduced by PLBC members include:
- Law Enforcement Deadly Use of force - previously introduced as H.B. 1664 in the prior session (Reps. Lee and Gainey).
- Addressing Arbitration/Act 111 Reform - previously introduced as H.B. 2602 in the prior session (Reps. Bullock, Jake Wheatley, and Chris Rabb).
- Certification and Decertification Process for Police Officers - previously introduced as H.B. 1812 in the prior session (Rep. Wheatley).