Watch CBS News

'We Cannot Let This Be A Tragic, Lost Opportunity': Ben Crump Urges Lawmakers Not To Give Up On George Floyd Justice In Policing Act

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/CBS News) -- Following the collapse of bipartisan police reform talks in Congress on Wednesday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the family of George Floyd, said that his clients are extremely disappointed and urged Democratic senators to bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to a floor vote.

"In the last year and a half, we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of Americans urging lawmakers to bring desperately needed change to policing in this country so there can be greater accountability, transparency, and ultimately trust in policing," Crump said in a statement. "People - including many police leaders - have raised their voices for something to change, and partisan politics once again prevents common sense reform. We can not let this be a tragic, lost opportunity to regain trust between citizens and police."

The statement comes after Sen. Cory Booker (D - New Jersey) called his Senate counterpart Tim Scott (R - South Carolina) to say that talks on police reformer were off. Multiple people familiar with the negotiations told CBS News that the discussion of new federal reforms are over with no plans to move ahead with legislation.

"Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal," Booker said in a statement.

The push for federal police reform came after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in south Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. The killing sparked riots and massive protests across the country, wherein millions of Americans demanded racial justice and accountability for police officers.

Chauvin was found guilty in April of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.

While negotiations on police reform gained momentum following the historic sentencing, talks stalled over disagreements on litigation against police officers.

Crump told CBS News the believes Congress should not give up on reform legislation. "I think we need to force it to the floor. I think the families deserve a vote," he said.

Meanwhile, the White House isn't ruling out police reform through executive action.

I still hope to sign into law a comprehensive and meaningful police reform bill that honors the name and memory of George Floyd, because we need legislation to ensure lasting and meaningful change," President Biden wrote in a statement. "But this moment demands action, and we cannot allow those who stand in the way of progress to prevent us from answering the call. That is why my Administration has already taken important steps, with the Justice Department announcing new policies on chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and body cameras. In the coming weeks, we will continue to work with Senator Booker, Congresswoman Bass, and other members of Congress who are serious about meaningful police reform. The White House will continue to consult with the civil rights and law enforcement and civil rights communities, as well as victims' families to define a path forward, including through potential further executive actions I can take to advance our efforts to live up to the American ideal of equal justice under law."

Jacari Harris, executive director of the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, released this statement Wednesday evening:

We are incredibly disappointed and dismayed that the United States Senate was unable to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. When the House passed the bill back in March, we were cautiously optimistic that the Senate would honor the will of the people, but that was not to be as yet.

Although this is a devastating setback, the George Floyd Memorial Foundation will continue to do the work that George Floyd himself set out to do. We have provided more than $50,000 in scholarships and educational programs in the past year, Bridgett Floyd and other Foundation members donated school supplies and held community service events around the country and most importantly, we are offering an avenue for people everywhere to participate in the process of making our country a better place through volunteer opportunities.

It's a shame that the bill that bore George Floyd's name was not passed, but it does not diminish the fact that Mr. Floyd truly changed the world. We will ensure that his caring spirit never dies.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.