Members of the California Legislative Black Caucus came together during a press conference Tuesday to advocate for a series of police reform bills.
The legislators are seeking to pass laws in the months ahead to help hold police officers accountable for the killings of unarmed Black men and women in California communities.
Assemblymember Mike Gipson, D-Carson, demanded justice and condemned the recent police shooting of Daunte Wright, a Minnesota man who was fatally shot by a cop during a traffic stop.
“I am sick and tired of having to come to speak about another one of our own killed sensibly by law enforcement,” said Gipson.
Last year, it was George Floyd’s death that brought Gipson and the rest of the CLBC together to urge their colleagues to support police reform measures.
“We want real reform and we want it now, not tomorrow, not next year. It can’t wait. Change is demanding its presence now and we’re standing up for change,” Gipson added.
As a direct response to Floyd’s death last May, Gipson authored Assembly Bill 1196 that was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to ban chokeholds at all California police departments. This year, the lawmaker introduced Assembly Bill 490, which would expand the ban to include restraints that block a person’s airway, like the one used to kill Floyd.
“Law enforcement can still restrain someone. What this bill prohibits is law enforcement from cutting off your oxygen,” Gipson said. “When you do this, when you apply certain techniques, you restrict someone’s oxygen. That’s not right. That’s lethal.”
Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, reintroduced Senate Bill 2, which would decertify police officers who are fired due to serious misconduct.
“As legislators, we have a moral obligation to right the historic wrongs of these racist policies and practices that continue to plague this state and this nation,” Bradford said.
Currently, California is one of only four states in the country without a law enforcement decertification process. SB 2 would also create new restrictions on qualified immunity for police.
"This is about bad officers," said Bradford. "This is not about defunding the police. This is about holding bad officers accountable."
Bradford and Gipson both addressed the Derek Chauvin trial and said that there was no better time than the present to pass meaningful legislation to prevent senseless killings in the future.
“Our community is demanding for systemic change to take place in our community, so the policies and legislation that we’re introducing today, it’s introducing with a lens of change and transformation taking place right here in the state of California,” Gipson said.
Gipson hopes the bills introduced by him and the other members of the caucus can help California lead the way to new policing reforms this legislative session.