By Daniel Gaffney
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice abandoned a police reform programme that was created during the Obama administration, to help reform police departments after controversial incidents such as police-involved shootings.
The programme was originally intended to provide resources to improve police-community relations, through issuing audits for local police forces, as well as suggesting possible reforms. However, the programme was scrapped because broad investigations of police departments led to tension between the DoJ and local police forces.
The police departments benefiting from these resources included Saint Anthony, Milwaukee; North Charleston, South Carolina; and Minnesota— the latter of which is where George Floyd was killed in May 2020.
The curtailment of the programme also meant that a review of the Milwaukee Police Department was not completed. The Milwaukee Police Department engaged in the program after an officer shot Dontre Hamilton- an unarmed black man- 14 times, killing him, in 2014.
The decision to scrap the plan was slammed as one of the many attempts by the Trump administration to destroy Obama-era reforms.
The Congressional Black Caucus criticised the decision. “This decision is wrong, reckless, insensitive, and immature,” caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, said in the statement. “It also further divides police departments and communities— rich and poor, black and white.”
Equally, Kanya Bennet, an American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel, said that, “Ending the program is a big mistake that will adversely impact communities of color.”
Following the murder of George Floyd, protestors across the world have taken to the streets to demand an end to systematic racism. As part of the protest, people are learning how buildings and statues celebrate slavery, and are choosing to tear them down.
The White House was built by slaves, and the man in it is very much part of the problem. There are a million reasons why Floyd’s death was avoidable, the move to scrap this police reform is one of them.