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What Has Changed Since George Floyd

2020-08-03 10:26:28

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In Washington, the efforts to reform policing have stalled. Congress can’t agree on a bill and has largely stopped debating the issue.

But changes are happening in cities across the country.

In the more than two months since the killing of George Floyd, 31 of America’s 100 largest cities have enacted policies restricting officers’ use of chokeholds, according to an analysis by Campaign Zero, a group that advocates against police violence. In all, 62 of the 100 largest cities now have such policies in place, including New York and Minneapolis, where Floyd died after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Atlanta, San Diego and 67 other cities now require officers to intervene when a fellow officer uses excessive force, up from 51 before Floyd’s death. And five cities — including Denver and St. Louis — have adopted the suite of eight reforms that Campaign Zero advocates, up from two cities earlier this year.

Several outside studies have suggested that those eight policies are likely to be effective in reducing police violence — without increasing crime.

But police unions have generally opposed limiting the use of force, saying it inhibits officers’ ability to fight crime. And some progressive critics of Campaign Zero argue that these reforms have been tried before and put too much faith in officers to abide by new rules. A better approach, they say, is shrinking police budgets.

“If you don’t have the standards, you can’t enforce them,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, a data scientist and co-founder of Campaign Zero. “One of the key challenges moving forward will be, now that these standards have been raised, how are we making sure officers who violate them are held accountable?”

President Trump has also opposed most restrictions on policing. Joe Biden and many congressional Democrats favor a bill that would condition federal funding on localities’ banning chokeholds and strangleholds.

In other policing developments:

The White House’s ambitious initiative to speed production of a coronavirus vaccine, Operation Warp Speed, has provided billions of dollars in funding and cut through red tape. But it’s also endangering the system set up to ensure safe drugs, experts say. Some worry that the administration will push regulators to give emergency approval to a vaccine before the November election.

The U.S. isn’t the only country trying to hurry the process. Russia plans to begin a nationwide vaccination campaign in October, despite not yet completing clinical trials. And in India, one drugmaker said it would begin producing hundreds of millions of doses of a vaccine candidate that is still in clinical trials.

In other virus developments:

In her latest book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” the journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson offers a searing study of how race in America functions as an immutable caste system, a “ranking of human value that sets the presumed supremacy of one group against the presumed inferiority of other groups.”

The book is an instant classic, the Times critic Dwight Garner writes in his review. “I told more than one person, as I moved through my days this past week, that I was reading one of the most powerful nonfiction books I’d ever encountered.”


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