The power of protest: Changes enacted since George Floyd’s death

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June 11, 2020
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The power of protest: Changes enacted since George Floyd’s death

George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25 of asphyxiation when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The protests that erupted in the wake of Floyd's death serve to shine a light on centuries of police violence against Black Americans dating back to slave patrols in the 17th-century South.

The civil action that began in Minneapolis has not only grown to global proportions; it has also spurred significant, sweeping changes in police departments around the U.S., inspired new standards for NASCAR events, and even caused tech giant IBM to rethink some of its ongoing projects.

Stacker compiled a list of changes occurring around the country in the weeks since Floyd died, using local and national news sources. In addition to examples posted in the forthcoming gallery are other, perhaps smaller, instances occurring in American culture day by day. These include HBO Max pulling “Gone With the Wind” from its catalog of movies and the TV show “Cops” being yanked after 33 seasons.

It would have been unthinkable in 2019 for a pandemic to wash ashore on American soil and shut down the biggest world economy. So too would it have been seemingly impossible for 2020 protests to dismantle police departments around the U.S.—from reducing their funding and reinvesting in local communities to banning chokeholds. The George Floyd protests, which have breathed new, energetic life into the growing Black Lives Matter movement, serve as touchstones of the power of the American people to enact change from the voting booth to the streets. Keep reading to discover some of the many changes that have been put into place since Floyd’s death in May.

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May 30: Working group on police reform formed in Maryland

Within five days of Floyd’s death, Maryland’s House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones on May 30 announced a bipartisan workgroup had been formed. Comprised of lawmakers, the group was tasked with reviewing police reforms and accountability throughout the state.

[Pictured: Police in Montgomery County, Maryland, escort a peaceful protest held in response to the May 25 death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd while in police custody.]

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June 1: San Diego police ban carotid restraints

Carotid restraint is a method by which an individual uses his or her arms to cut off blood supply to the brain via either side of another person’s neck. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced on June 1 that effective immediately, police officers in the city were banned from employing the carotid technique.

[Pictured: Black Lives Matter demonstrators rally in front of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department on June 7, 2020, in Santee, California.]

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June 1: Congress members push to stop transferring military weaponry to police

Sen. Brain Schatz (D-Hawaii) on May 31 announced on Twitter his intention to bring forth an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would end the practice of transferring military weaponry to police departments around the country. Specifically the amendment would bring a close the 1033 Program allowing the U.S. military to sell retired equipment to law enforcement agencies.

Because Schatz is not a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he will have to introduce the amendment during floor debate. He officially unveiled his plan June 1.

On the Senate Armed Services panel is Sen. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a former Marine who has said he plans to help move forward with fellow lawmakers in the push to end the surplus program. Defense authorization deliberations aren’t scheduled yet, but the panel is expected to begin writing the bill before July 1.

[Pictured: Protesters march through streets of Dallas to protest the death of George Floyd and speak out against police brutality on May 30, 2020.]

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June 2: Colorado senators introduce massive police reform bill

Senate Bill 217, which would enforce heightened controls and transparency on police officers’ use of force, including requiring body cameras, banning chokeholds, and revising rules for when it is permissible to shoot at a suspect running away, was introduced June 2 and passed in the Colorado Senate on June 9. The bill will be voted on next by the House and then brought before Gov. Jared Polis.

[Pictured: Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen marches arm and arm with peaceful protesters during a protest over the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020, in Denver, Colorado.]

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June 2: New Jersey announces statewide police reforms

New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on June 2 laid out a multipronged approach for improving relationships between police officers in the state and the residents those officers serve. The efforts include updating New Jersey’s use-of-force policies for the first time in 20 years and introducing a program in Atlantic City, Millville, Paterson, and Trenton to improve and expand crisis intervention education for law enforcement as well as mental health workers.

[Pictured: Jordan Scott-Young of the West Orange Youth Caucus holds up a signature by Mayor Robert D. Parisi after he signed a petition to call for change in policing during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Municipal Building on June 6, in West Orange, New Jersey.]

 

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June 3: Breonna's Law passed by Louisville Public Safety Committee

Tthe Louisville Public Safety Committee in Kentucky voted on June 3 in favor of the proposed Breonna's Law, which would ensure that no-knock warrants—in which law enforcement officers can enter a property unannounced—are only sought or issued when there is a documented threat of harm or mortality to responding officers or civilians.

The law is named for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old who was shot to death in March 2020 after three Louisville Metro Police Department officers forced themselves into her apartment unannounced. They had been issued a no-knock warrant.

The Louisville Metro Council voted unanimously on June 11 to pass Breonna's Law.

[Pictured: Rev. Jesse Jackson delivers remarks during a vigil for Breonna Taylor on June 6, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky.]

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June 3: Breonna Taylor case re-opened by the FBI

The same day Breonna’s Law was passed by the Louisville Public Safety Committee, the FBI announced it would be reopening the Breonna Taylor case. The investigation seeks to fill the gaps of what happened May 13, 2020, when officers with a no-knock warrant entered Taylor’s home while she slept and shot the frontline worker to death.

The original incident report outlining the events of that night is almost entirely devoid of information, including listing Taylor’s injuries as “none” despite at least eight gunshot wounds her body sustained.

[Pictured: Protesters march holding placards and a portrait of Breonna Taylor during a demonstration against racism and police brutality, in Hollywood, California, on June 7, 2020.]

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June 3: Los Angeles city officials cut over $100 million from LAPD budget

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on June 3 announced significant cuts of $250 million to the city’s proposed budget, with up to $150 million coming out of the LAPD. Garcetti said the money would be reallocated for communities of color with more details forthcoming. The mayor further announced the formation on or before July 1 of a Civil and Human Rights Commission.

[Pictured: Protesters in a peaceful march in Hollywood on June 7, 2020, against police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd.]

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June 3: Philadelphia removes statue of former mayor tied to police abuses

Frank Rizzo acted as Philadelphia’s police commissioner from 1968 to 1971 and as mayor from 1972 to 1980. During his tenure, he was an avid critic of desegregation of Philadelphia schools, oversaw a police department with documented patterns of police violence, blocked the construction of public housing in white neighborhoods, and brazenly told his supporters while running for his third term to “vote white.”

A statue of Rizzo, constructed in 1998, was controversial from the start. Protesters on May 30 attempted to pull the bronze statue down themselves; Mayor Jim Kenney had it removed on June 3.

[Pictured: Police officers guard the controversial Frank Rizzo statue as protesters clash with police near City Hall in Philadelphia on May 30.]

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June 3: Richmond mayor commits to Citizen Review Board and other reforms

Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond, Virginia, on June 3 rolled out several citywide reforms in response to protests there in recent weeks. In addition to apologizing for officers’ use of tear gas, Stoney announced a commitment to remove Confederate monuments, enact a Citizen Review Board and crisis alert, and commence a study on racial equity in Richmond.

[Pictured: Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney speaks during a news conference on June 4.]

 

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stu_spivack // Wikimedia Commons

June 3: Cleveland City Council declares racism a public health crisis

Cleveland City Council on June 3 announced plans to commence a citywide push to eradicate inequities among residents that have historically caused statistically worse health outcomes for African Americans. The council further voted to declare racism a public health crisis in Cleveland.

[Pictured: Cleveland City Hall.]

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June 3: Charges upgraded against Officer Derek Chauvin

Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, causing Floyd to die by asphyxiation according to an independent autopsy, was fired along with three other officers at the scene following Floyd’s death May 25. Chauvin was additionally charged with third-degree murder.

Charges against Chauvin were upgraded to second-degree murder on June 3, with the three other officers at the scene arrested and charged for the first time.

 

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June 4: Minneapolis public schools, parks cut ties with police department

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted unanimously on June 4 to discontinue its relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department. The board is the latest in a series of city organizations—including a variety of venues, Minneapolis Public Schools, the University of Minnesota, and various museums—to do sever ties with the city police.

[Pictured: Hennepin County public defenders participate in a silent demonstration at the Hennepin County Government Center on June 8, 2020, in Minneapolis.]

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June 4: Men responsible for Ahmaud Arbery's death can be tried

A judge ruled on June 4 that there was probable cause to charge three men with murder charges over the Feb. 23 shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. Arbery was out jogging in Glynn County, Georgia, when prosecutors said men “chased, hunted down, and ultimately executed” him.

[Pictured: Demonstrators march on the streets after a court appearance by Gregory and Travis McMichael, two suspects in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, on June 4, 2020, in Brunswick, Georgia.]

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June 4: Indianapolis removes monument to Confederate soldiers

A monument erected in Garfield Park in Indianapolis to honor Confederate soldiers who died in a Union prison camp in the city will be removed, according to a June 4 announcement by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. The monument had been relocated in the early 1900s from its original location at Greenlawn Cemetery.

[Pictured: People unite for peaceful protests on June 6, 2020, in Indianapolis.]

 

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June 4: Portland superintendent removes armed police officers from schools

Armed police officers will no longer be stationed at Portland schools, according to an announcement on June 4 from the city’s superintendent, Guadalupe Guerrero. Guerrero said the Portland Public Schools district will be diverting additional funds to counselors, social workers, and other support systems for the city’s students.

[Pictured: Superintendent Ken Kunin joins student protesters during a demonstration against institutional racism at South Portland Police Station.]

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June 4: San Francisco redirects police funds to the Black community

Officials in San Francisco said on June 4 that some of the city’s police department budget would be reallocated for the Black community there. The transfer of funds, according to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton was intended as an effort toward reparations in a city where the African American community has been disproportionately, adversely affected by policies in place for decades.

[Pictured: San Francisco Mayor London Breed takes a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd at City Hall on June 9.]

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June 4: Virginia removes statue of Robert E. Lee

Following years of controversy, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced June 4 that the statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond would be removed. Lee commanded the Confederate States Army during the Civil War; his statue was built in 1890 and installed on what is now Monument Avenue.

[Pictured: People gather around the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond on June 4.]

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June 4: Iowa lawmakers announce legislation for more police misconduct investigation

Termed the “Plan for a More Perfect Union,” lawmakers in Iowa on June 4 laid out a set of goals to improve the relationship between law enforcement and civilians throughout the state. Proposals include rendering it illegal to rehire police officers terminated from their jobs for misconduct and establishing a chokehold ban.

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June 4: Michigan Senate passes mandatory bias training for police

Mandatory bias training in Michigan, which passed unanimously in the Michigan Senate June 4, would require mental health screenings and training in violence de-escalation, among several newly defined standards for police departments throughout the state. The new rules would be integrated into the certification process for new recruits as laid out in the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

[Pictured: Downtown Grand Rapids Michigan where a protest began peacefully and grew into a much more dangerous situation as the local police attempted to break up the gathering.]

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June 5: Minneapolis bans use of chokeholds

Minneapolis' City Council on June 5 approved the banning of chokeholds by officers in the city, a condition agreed to between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The human rights organization started a civil rights investigation into George Floyd's death.

[Pictured: Xavier Brown shows his support as demonstrators march past his home while protesting police brutality following the death of George Floyd.]

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June 5: Slave auction block monument removed in Fredericksburg, Virginia

A slave auction block used 176 years ago in Fredericksburg, Virginia, was removed June 5 after months of delays amid the coronavirus pandemic and a number of lawsuits. A Virginia chapter of the NAACP in 2017 officially called for the block to be dispatched. Despite two businesses that sued to stop such an action, a judge allowed for the removal to proceed.

[Pictured: Original auction bloc used to sell slaves in Fredericksburg, Virginia.]

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June 5: Dallas police chief implements 'duty to intervene' policy

Police in Dallas as of June 5 are legally required to intervene should another officer be seen using excessive force, according to a new mandate put forth by Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall. The measure was stated as being drafted to prevent future death similar to the case of George Floyd.

[Pictured: Demonstrators march past the Earle Cabell Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse during a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism on June 6 in Dallas, Texas.]

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June 5: Street in front of White House renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on June 5 that the area of 16th Street directly in front of the White House would be renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza in response to recent protests over George Floyd’s death and police brutality and racial inequality in general. Bowser further commissioned a mural on the street reading “Black Lives Matter” in bright yellow paint.

[Pictured: The street sign of Black Lives Matter Plaza is seen in front of St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House in Washington D.C.]

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June 6: Police brutality captured on cameras leads to discipline for officers

Near-immediate suspensions and firings were enacted for police officers in cities including Buffalo, New York, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, following footage captured by protests of those officers enacting unnecessary violence on civilians. The footage in certain cases such as Buffalo, where a 75-year-old man was pushed to the ground and then walked past as he bled profusely from his head, has offered contradictory information to statements from the officers involved.

[Pictured: Police officers advance after firing tear gas during a demonstration on May 31, 2020, in Atlanta.]

 

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June 7: Mayor de Blasio pledges to cut NYPD funding

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on June 7 that NYPD funding would be slashed, although he didn’t explain by how much. The NYPD’s budget for the current fiscal year is $5.9 billion.

[Pictured: Thousands of protesters gathered at McCarren Park in Brooklyn on June 7, 2020.]

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Junee 7: Minneapolis City Council votes to dismantle police

The Minneapolis City Council voted on June 7—by a margin large enough to overrule the mayor—to dismantle and rebuild the city’s police department. Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said at a rally: “Our commitment is to end policing as we know it and to recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe.” The push doesn’t call for the total removal of a citywide police department; rather, the vote is a call for rethinking public safety and law enforcement in such a way that residents can be assured of receiving protective, equitable services to residents.

[Pictured: Protesters gather outside the Hennepin County Government Center on June 8, 2020, in Minneapolis.]

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June 8: New York Assembly passes Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Bill

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has resolved to sign the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Bill, passed on June 8 by the state Assembly 140-3. The bill would render aggravated strangulation by police officers a criminal act. Its name is in honor of Eric Garner, a Black man who died in 2014 from being held in a chokehold by a white officer.

[Pictured: A memorial of Eric Garner seen outside of filmmaker's Spike Lee's 40 Acres offices in Brooklyn.]

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June 8: IBM stops developing facial recognition technology

Tech company IBM announced in a letter to Congress on June 8 it would cease development of facial recognition technology “for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency.”

Research in 2018 by Joy Buolamwini and Timnit Gebru showed extensive biases in facial-recognition technology and associated algorithms, particularly in regard to ethnicity and age.

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June 8: Democrats in Congress announce police reform bill

A bill proposed June 8 by Democratic members of the House of Representatives seeks to reform police department policies throughout the United States while rooting out what some House members characterize as outdated policies that have disproportionately hurt Black communities and individuals.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) indicated he would call the House back by the end of June for a vote when the bill is ready.

[Pictured: U.S. Capitol Police as protesters gather at the U.S. Capitol during protests on June 7, 2020, in Washington D.C.]

 

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June 8: Portland police chief resigns, mayor promises reforms

Portland Police Chief Jami Resch, whose role was announced in January 2020, resigned from her position on June 8. Lt. Chuck Lovell, an African American who has been in the police bureau for almost two decades, was appointed as chief of police. Resch said the resignation was her idea and that it was time for the bureau to evolve.

Mayor Ted Wheeler announced significant reforms for city police on June 9, including but not limited to banning the use of chokeholds by police and reallocating $7 million from the police budget to communities of color.

[Pictured: Portland Police Chief Frank Clark speaks during a press conference at Portland City Hall on June 3, 2020.]

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June 9: New York State Legislature repeals Police Secrecy Law 50-A

The Police Secrecy Law 50-A, a 43-year-old law that kept police personnel records from being released, was repealed on June 9 by the New York State Legislature. Co-sponsoring the bill to repeal were Bronx State Sen. Jamaal Bailey and Manhattan Assemblymember Dan O’Donnell. The new bill mandates the disclosure of disciplinary records of police officers throughout New York when such a request is made.

[Pictured: A view of New York State Capitol Building and office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the Empire State Plaza on April 22, 2020, in Albany, New York.]

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June 9: Texas requires implicit bias training for all police officers

Implicit bias training seeks to reveal to individuals the subconscious judgments they make in order to unearth and undo discriminatory practices. The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement agreed on June 9 to require such training for all police officers in the state—the first policy change to be enforced across Texas since George Floyd’s death.

[Pictured: Police officers hold their hands up in solidarity as the remains of George Floyd are brought by horse-drawn carriage in a funeral procession to Houston Memorial Gardens Cemetery for burial on June 9, 2020, in Pearland, Texas.]

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June10: NASCAR bans Confederate flags

NASCAR’s move to ban Confederate flags from its events and races came on the heels of its Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the league’s Cup Series, calling for such a move two days prior.

NASCAR’s statement on Twitter read: "The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors, and our industry.”

[Pictured: A view of American and Confederate flags seen flying over the infield during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 in Sparta, Kentucky.]

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