The heads of the NAACP and other civil rights groups on Thursday denounced Congress’ leaders for failing to enact changes to policing after the outrage of George Floyd’s killing.
The statement from the activists gave voice to Black voters’ stinging disappointment at the failure of lawmakers to deliver on promises of a racial-justice overhaul of policing.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that more than a year after George Floyd was killed and millions took to the streets worldwide to demand an end to police brutality and the systemic criminalization of Black and Brown communities, congressional leaders failed to deliver meaningful legislation that would begin to address this nation’s longstanding history of violent, discriminatory policing,” said the groups.
Signing the statement were The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Action Network, The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, The Black Women’s Roundtable, the National Council of Negro Women and the National Urban League.
The outrage was in response to Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, the Democrats’ lead negotiator on a policing bill, walking away from the negotiations on Wednesday. He said a deal was “out of reach” after months of talks with Republicans.
Mr. Booker said the sides were getting further and further apart.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Republicans’ top negotiator and the party’s only Black member in the chamber, faulted Mr. Booker for walking away.
The civil rights leaders noted the debt Democrats owe to Black voters who made the difference in key wins for the party in 2020.
“In the 2020 election, voters came out in record numbers to support candidates who promised meaningful police accountability,” the civil rights leaders said.
The statement didn’t specifically blame Republicans for blocking changes but praised the “determination and commitment” of Mr. Booker and Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat, in pursuing a deal.
The groups continued to call for changes including eliminating a legal roadblock on being able to sue individual law enforcement officers for civil rights violations, strengthening the Justice Department’s ability to bring criminal civil rights actions against officers and restrict federal funding from going to law enforcement agencies that have not banned chokeholds and other restrictive maneuvers.
“To meet this moment, we demand transformative change that will keep our families and communities safe and end the systemic racism that permeates our criminal legal system,” the groups said.