LANSING, Mich. — Police reform was a major issue that stemmed from the civil unrest in 2020. Tuesday morning, Michigan House Democrats took steps to make that a reality. They introduced a package of bills called Justice For All, which is meant to "improve safety and restore public trust through increased accountability measures,” they said in a statement.
“This is a bill package that will protect each and every one of our children's lives and some of our lives as well,” said State Rep. Tenisha Yancey during a press conference in Lansing. “Our legislation will create new guidelines for law enforcement regarding the use of force, including, and not limited to, prohibiting the use of choke holds that led to the killing of George Floyd and Eric Garner. It will also prohibit no-knock warrants, like the one that led to the death of Breonna Taylor.”
Breonna Taylor’s mother and cousin, Tamika Palmer and Tawanna Gordon, were at the press conference, standing next to lawmakers, state representatives and the NAACP.
“We are calling on Michigan's politicians to consider the constituents that got them elected to their political offices. And many of those constituents look like Tawanna Gordon, Tamika Palmer and Breonna Taylor,” said Gordon. “We asked Michigan politicians to consider all the mothers in this country, Black and Brown, who are not able to go back to normal after their loved ones had their lives cut short to police brutality and excessive use-of-force tactics that are outdated.”
In March last year, Taylor was shot and killed in her home in Louisville by police during a botched raid. The officers were approved to enter her home after a judge signed and authorized a no-knock warrant.
“The risks associated with no-knock warrants and warrants executed in the middle of the night are too dangerous to citizens and officers alike,” Palmer said. “No amount of drugs seized is ever worth taking the life of someone. It's necessary that we ban no-knock warrants so that no other parent has to receive the call that I received in the wee hours of the morning of March 13, 2020.”
The package of bills would also require law enforcement to report incidents of excessive force, complaints of misconduct and the results of investigations into both, and make all reports public.
Another part of the package, House Bill 4873, authored by State Rep. Sarah Anthony, would require law enforcement to notify parents or guardians of minors before taking them into custody and interviewing them.
Anthony said the goal is building trust. She believes the package of bills is a step in the right direction.
“These are common-sense reforms. These should already be on the books,” Representative Anthony said. “So, that again, this time next year, we are not having another press conference in which we are reflecting on another injustice, another life lost at the hands of law enforcement.”