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How George Floyd's Murder Sparked Activism In Baltimore & Pushed For Change In The Maryland State House

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis one year ago today. His death, at the hands of a police officer, was captured on camera and sparked activism around the world.

There were massive protests across the globe. In Baltimore, tens of thousands of people peacefully marched through the streets and demanded a change in law and re-allocation of funding to police departments.

Dr. Rashawn Ray is a sociologist and professor at the University of Maryland College Park. Dr. Ray said the video that captured George Floyd's death was an awakening for many Americans and it was a sudden realization that America was not living up to its true promise.

"I think when it comes to people's attitudes, we are definitely in a new era where people have this racial awakening and they now have a new lens by which to look at the world," said Dr. Ray.

Dr. Ray, who is also a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said people are realizing they can no longer sweep the problems of racism or prejudice "under the rug." "We have tons of video evidence showing us what happens to people. So what people are now saying, we can't simply turn the other cheek, look away; instead, we need real systemic policy change."

That change comes from Maryland State House. The General Assembly passed a series of bills to hold officers accountable for bad behavior.

"We did create change this past legislative session and it was a major change, to be clear the change was long overdue," said Sen. Jill P. Carter, who sponsored many of the bills which included a repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, tougher legislation aimed at preventing excessive use of force, legislation that said officers have a duty to intervene and report if they see fellow officers committing wrongful acts, public disclosure of police disciplinary records and civilians having more prominent roles in the disciplinary process against officers.

Senator Jill P. Carter said advocates had fought for these changes for years, but the events of 2020 made the difference.

"As George Floyd became a wake-up call for the world, it was also a wake-up call in Maryland and for Maryland legislative leaders who made the decision to prioritize police reform and recognizing. I think finally that we cannot include public safety," said Sen. Carter. "We can't have ideal public safety as long as we don't have public trust of law enforcement, and that won't happen without accountability and transparency."

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