Lawmakers divided over police reform: ‘It’s about getting re-elected’

Democrats and Republican's have different approaches in the aftermath of George Floyd's death

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Legislatures remain divided over police reform and social justice since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police last May that ignited months of protest across the country.

While Democrats across many states proposed measures to reform use-of-force policies from police departments, Republicans focused on repressing demonstrators who protested in the streets or on private properties.

police
In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo police and protesters converge during a demonstration in Louisville, Ky. A grand jury has indicted one officer on criminal charges six months after Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by police in Kentucky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The contrasting approaches from both parties point towards a deeper issue in American politics with national political experts blaming the contrasting proposal on political ambition, re-election campaigns, white supremacy, and lack of bipartisanship, according to NBC News.

At least 13 states have begun introducing stricter laws against protests while at least four states including Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, and New York are in support of banning chokeholds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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State Senator Rick Brattin of Missouri introduced a bill that would allow for deadly force to be used against protestors on private property or leniency given to drivers who run over protestors who block their way, NBC News reports. Brattin created the bill in response to protests in Missouri following Floyd’s death.

“Roads were completely blocked off, keeping people from moving to and fro. And we have a right to protest; we don’t have a right to inhibit people’s movement and their freedom to express their rights as well,” Brattin said at the time. “And I think that’s one thing in America today that people just do not understand.”.

Jacob Neiheisel, a political science professor at The University at Buffalo, said both parties are trying to satisfy their supporters who are likely campaign donors.

“There’s a lot of pressure to be on board with group positions, and there are electoral and legislative incentives,” Neiheisel said. “We are in a polarized political time, and there’s a lot of forces pointing in the direction of looking out for the team.”

Protestors Add "Defund The Police" Messaging To Washington DC Street
People walk down 16th street after “Defund The Police” was painted on the street near the White House on June 08, 2020 in Washington, DC. After days of protests in DC over the death of George Floyd, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has renamed that section of 16th street “Black Lives Matter Plaza”. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

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James Gilsinan, a political science professor at St. Louis University, said both parties are guilty of either misleading or misinforming their constituents that have led to two polar opposite world views.

Gilsinan also notes the increase in widespread misinformation amongst the Republican party, in reference to the 2020 presidential election, and their response to police treatment towards Black people.

“It’s not about solving problems. It’s about getting re-elected. When people latch on to a narrative about how the world works, any narrative that challenges that fact is disregarded,” Gilsinan said.

He continued, “Are there too many incidences of police overreacting in situations? Yes. Can you document that? Yes. Is it racially discriminatory? Yes. There’s plenty of evidence for all of that. But once you have a particular narrative hardwired in your head, facts don’t matter.”

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