June 25, 2020

Watson Coleman Statement on Justice in Policing Passage in the House

Washington, DC — Following the passage of H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) issued the following statement pointing out the urgent need for the measure, and the bill’s comprehensive transparency and accountability reforms.

“This country is finally waking up to the realities of life for Black Americans: constant, systemic, and built-in biases, massive disparities from health to wages, and a police system that has been carefully molded over decades to target and abuse people of color. None of this is new, but the national outcry that followed the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor has finally given us the momentum to address it. This doesn’t fix the generations worth of wrongs that hold Black people back, but it takes a vital step at fixing the expectations for policing.

“The Justice in Policing Act brings transparency and accountability by eliminating qualified immunity, changing the standards for use of force, ending no-knock warrants, and more. The measures proposed by Senate Republicans and the Trump White House would hand our community a band-aid for a gaping wound, while this bill is what communities are calling for. It’s what we need, and if the Mitch McConnell’s Senate fails to pass it they will be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

“As a Black woman, these past few weeks have been as hard as they have been inspiring. It is exhausting to see us killed over loud music, or suspicion of a counterfeit $20 bill, or because, in the dead of night, police who failed to identify themselves broke into the wrong home. It is infuriating to think about the women whose stories aren’t told, who don’t get rallies, whose names aren’t on signs, but who also deserve justice. Yet the sustained protests, the beautiful coalitions that have formed to call for change, and the eyes that seem to be opening for the first time give me so much hope. 

“This bill is one step of many this country desperately needs to take. I am proud of the work my colleagues and I did in bringing this together, and hope that it is just the beginning.”

Watson Coleman previously introduced the Next Step Act alongside Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), provisions of which were included in H.R. 7120.