Biden signs executive order on policing on Floyd anniversary

President Biden on Wednesday marked the second anniversary of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer by signing an executive order reforming policing at the federal level.

But the event was overshadowed by another act of violence — a shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday that killed at least 21 people — 19 children and two teachers.

“I’m fed up,” Biden said of the rampant gun violence, announcing he will be traveling to the Uvalde, Texas campus in the coming days. “We must ask, when in God’s name are we going to do what needs to be done?”

Addressing an audience in the East Room, which included relatives of those killed by police officers, Biden explained that the event “was held for the same purpose — to come together and say ‘enough’.” ”

The order, which Biden acknowledged, is not a substitute for broader reforms that only Congress can enact, directs all federal agencies to revise their policies on the use of force, establishes a national registry of officers fired for misconduct, and provides Grants ready to incentivize state and local police departments to tighten restrictions on strangleholds and warrants.

“It’s a measure of what we can do together to heal the soul of this nation, to address the deep fear and trauma and exhaustion that Black Americans in particular have been experiencing for generations,” Biden said, recalling the national wave of protests after Floyd’s murder. “The message is clear: Enough! Just enough!”

The order, signed by Biden under the supervision of Floyd’s relatives, civil rights activists, law enforcement officials and Democratic lawmakers, also restricts the future transfer of most military equipment to law enforcement agencies.

The White House and Justice Department have been working on the order since broader police reform ran aground in the evenly divided Senate last year.

The attendance of civil rights and law enforcement officials at Wednesday’s ceremony in the East Room underscored Biden’s determination to take a centrist approach to an issue that stirs strong emotions on both sides.

Biden, who was propelled into the presidency two years ago by black voters, many of whom were outraged by Floyd’s killing this summer, was aware of the political damage Democrats had suffered from calls to “defund the police,” which the gave Republicans a strong line of attack.

Acknowledging that “progress can be slow and frustrating,” Biden dismissed those who have tried to pit the cause of police reform against public safety issues.

“We can show what’s possible when we work together,” he said.

Though Democrats need another large turnout from black voters in November if the party hopes to hold onto its slim majorities in Congress, Biden, who outlined a plan to “fund the police” in his State of the Union address in March, is unequivocal alienating suspicious moderate voters by making it appear that he opposes law enforcement.

Notably, the government changed the language of the use of force to reflect law enforcement concerns, and softened a provision in an earlier draft that would have authorized federal officials to use deadly force only “as a last resort when there is no reasonable alternative.” , ie only if this is necessary to avert imminent and serious bodily harm or death.”

The final order instead refers to the Justice Department’s updated policy on the use of force, which was released this week. The first such revision of this policy in 18 years, Atty’s policy. General Merrick Garland says officers can shoot suspects if they “reasonably believe that the victim of such violence poses an imminent threat of death or serious injury to the officer or any other person.”

The policy also states that deadly force “should not be used against any person whose actions constitute only a threat to himself or property, unless a person poses an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others in in the immediate vicinity”.

Vice President Kamala Harris, addressing Biden, began the event by commenting on the Texas school shootings
— and by speaking to the families of those killed by law enforcement and touching on the universality of grief.

“You endured an imaginable grief. You have experienced the agony of losing someone you love and cherish,” Harris said. “You shouldn’t have to grieve, never should have grieved for our nation to feel your pain – and understand what’s wrong and agree that something needs to be done.”

She also criticized Republicans for “stepping away from their moral obligation” and failing to compromise on police reform.

“This executive order is not a substitute for laws. It also doesn’t accomplish everything we know needs to be done,” Harris continued. “But it is a necessary and long overdue critical step forward.” Biden signs executive order on policing on Floyd anniversary

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