Families of Black men slain by police are hopeful for reform

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Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the George Floyd family, is joined by family members of victims of racial injustice following a meeting with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who is working on a police reform bill in the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 29, 2021. At left are Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd who was killed by Minneapolis police during an arrest, and Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner who was killed by a New York Police Department officer using a prohibited chokehold during his arrest. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON – The family and representatives of Black men slain by the police met with senators and White House officials Thursday — and left optimistic that police reform could be approved by May 25, the anniversary of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Following a joint congressional address Wednesday night in which President Joe Biden asked Congress to approve reform by May 25, the families and their representatives met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

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“They said that we are going to do everything in our power to make sure we have a meaningful bill that we can put on President Biden’s desk,” said lawyer Ben Crump after a White House meeting Thursday afternoon.

Attending the meetings were representatives and family members of Floyd, Eric Garner, Terence Crutcher, Andrew Brown and Botham Jean — each of whom was killed by police. Floyd's death sparked protests worldwide and calls to hold police accountable after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was captured on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes. Chauvin was convicted this month of murder and manslaughter.

Crump said the senators made a commitment to the families to pass a significant bill. “It's their blood that's in this legislation," Crump said of the families of the victims.

After the Senate meetings, the families and their representatives met with Cedric Richmond, the White House director of public engagement; Susan Rice, the director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Dana Remus, the White House counsel.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would ban chokeholds and qualified immunity for law enforcement while creating national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability.

The House passed the measure in March, but its fate remains uncertain in a Senate split evenly between Democrats and Republicans as bipartisan talks have started.

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