WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, released the following statement on House passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120). Senator Cardin is an original cosponsor of the Senate companion legislation, led by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
“Last night, the House of Representatives passed transformational civil rights legislation to ensure justice in policing for America, regardless of race, color, or creed. The American people strongly support repairing the fractured relationship between police officers and the communities they serve. I have been heartened by the peaceful protests around the nation that are growing in strength and represent a diverse cross-section of Americans from all background.
“Now is the time for Congress to act. We must take bold measures to reimage our law enforcement officers as ‘guardians’ and not ‘warriors.’ I thank the Congressional Black Caucus for shepherding this legislation through the House, which contains my End Racial and Religious Profiling Act (ERRPA) and Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA). Those measures are notably missing from the Republican alternative in the Senate, along with other measures to hold officers accountable for misconduct and create better nationwide standards for training and use of force. I urge Senator McConnell to quickly bring the House legislation to the Senate floor for a full and open debate. He can demonstrate to the American people that Senate Republicans truly want to engage in a fruitful debate on police reforms rather than simply checking the box on yet another issue of importance to the American people.
“Today, I am thinking about the late Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, my dear friend. After the tragic death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore Police Department (BPD) custody in 2015, Elijah helped bring Baltimore together. We worked as Team Maryland to begin the long, painful, and necessary process to overhaul the BPD with help from the US Department of Justice, and those efforts continue today. Elijah used to say: ‘I realized that with African-American people, where we’ve been blocked from being all that God meant for us to be, I don’t have time to be patient.’ He would often remind us that ‘we are better than this.’ And he was right. I hope we can prove him right in the United States Senate and stop being too patient, stop waiting, stop being too timid, and finally take concrete steps to ‘establish justice’ for all citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution.”