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Keller @ Large: George Floyd Protests Show Public Pressure Is Key Factor In Police Reform

BOSTON (CBS) - Can the Derek Chauvin murder trial verdict break the impasse in Congress over police reform?

The House has passed a bill named for George Floyd that would ban chokeholds and some no-knock warrants and prohibit racial and religious profiling. But elements like ending qualified immunity for cops – which makes it harder to hold them accountable - have been a non-starter for Senate Republicans, some of whom are working on their own bill that focuses on funding better training for police.

What can Capitol Hill learn from the recent passage of police reform on Beacon Hill?

First, start with the low-hanging fruit. "There were building blocks that were there," like agreement on the need for better officer certification processes, notes State House News Service reporter Katie Lannan, who covered the year-long push for police reform. "If you've got a lot of parties at the table on something, to throw the whole thing out seems a lot bigger of a faux pas."

But in the end, the lesson of reform here in Massachusetts is there's one key factor in breaking the logjam – public pressure. Before the Floyd murder sent thousands of citizens into the streets demanding reform, it was stalled; afterwards, it wasn't.

That may help explain why opponents of reform are targeting protests with a wave of new bills in 35 states, including one signed into law in Florida this week that grants civil immunity to people who hit protestors with their cars.

Still, one of the most significant political developments of the past year has been the increasing willingness of major corporations – including many major donors to GOP candidates and PACs - to take sides in hot-button disputes like the debate over police brutality. You know the old saying – money talks and everything else walks? Many of these businesses have decided their economic future lies in siding with reform, and that's a type of pressure opponents can't legislate away so easily.

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