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
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.
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.
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.”
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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