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.]
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.]
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.
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.]
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.]
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.]
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.]
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.]
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.]
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.]
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.]2018 All rights reserved.