Today marks exactly one year since four Minnesota police officers—Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao—murdered George Floyd. After apprehending Floyd for the suspicion of using counterfeit money, Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Floyd’s last cries for his mother and “I can’t breathe” served as a lighting rod for a summer of protests across the country. But for Black and Brown communities, who experience racist police violence every day, it was just another tragedy in a long line of injustice their community has witnessed at the hands of racist police. As we mark the anniversary of another senseless death, we must come together to abolish qualified immunity and demand police accountability.
“When the government shields police officers from liability to those they harm, we should all be afraid and outraged,” Ashleigh Crocker, Communications Director at Progress Virginia, said. “We must remember George Floyd and the countless others whose lives were cut short by police violence by holding police accountable and banning qualified immunity. We can’t live in an equitable society if police officers can use excessive force on Black and Brown people without consequences.”
- Police kill a Black person at least once every other day in the U.S. and police violence is a leading cause of death in Black men.
- Police are rarely held accountable, even in cases where the officers are arrested for murder or manslaughter while on duty.
- Qualified immunity is the legal doctrine that shields police officers from accountability and allows them to avoid prosecution in cases of excessive use of force on community members. Victims of police brutality are prevented from suing in civil court unless they can prove that both the officer used excessive force and that the officer should have known it was against the law. But apparently, they should only know if it was against the law if there has been an identical case.