Seeing Justice Done in the George Floyd Case
April 23, 2021
Then-State Senator Cohen with his parents, Genevieve and Dr. Morris Cohen, and Vice President Mondale.
This week, I watched justice done as a Minneapolis jury convicted a former police officer in the death of George Floyd, but work remains to be done. In my statement about the verdict, I noted that three provisions I authored are in the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act now awaiting action in the Senate. I also chaired my Judiciary subcommittee’s hearing on voter suppression and repairing the Voting Rights Act; remembered former Vice President Walter Mondale, a great public servant and progressive leader; joined my Congressional colleagues in writing to the Small Business Administration (SBA) urging quick implementation of the Shuttered Venues Operators grants I voted for in a coronavirus relief bill in December; voted to make the District of Columbia the 51st state; announced significant grants to the University of Memphis and to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and offered a health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
On Tuesday, like much of the country, I awaited the verdict in the George Floyd murder case in Minneapolis and was pleased to see justice done. The trial and peaceful protests over the past 11 months are yet another reminder that the police accountability and transparency provisions of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed in the House must be taken up and passed in the Senate and become law. I authored and introduced three provisions in the bill – the National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act, the Police Creating Accountability by Making Effective Recording Available (CAMERA) Act and the Police Training and Independent Review Act – to provide the public with greater confidence in the fairness of law enforcement, particularly in communities of color. We still have much work to do.
On Thursday, as Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, I presided at a hearing on “Oversight of the Voting Rights Act: The Evolving Landscape of Voting Discrimination.” See my release, including my opening statement and questioning of hearing witnesses, here.
On Monday, we learned that former Vice President Walter Mondale had passed. Mondale, who was also a U.S. Senator, was a dedicated progressive leader and stood up for civil rights and other important causes. He will be long remembered as a great American. The Vice President sent me this note when I served as the Vice President of the Tennessee Constitutional Convention.
This week, I joined a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA) encouraging prompt action to distribute grants to eligible entertainment venues that have been shuttered by the pandemic as quickly as possible. As evictions loom and creditors demand repayment, these loans will be lifelines to clubs, theaters, zoos and other businesses. See the letter here.
On Thursday, I was proud to cast a vote for District of Columbia statehood. Washington, D.C., with about 712,000 residents, has a larger population than either Wyoming or Vermont, and more people than every Congressional district in the states of Rhode Island, West Virginia, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Maine. It’s time to make D.C. a state so that these U.S. citizens have representation in Congress.
On Tuesday, I announced a significant grant to the University of Memphis to study how best to eliminate the stigma of HIV. See that release here.
On Wednesday, I announced that one of the National Institutes of Health that is focused on the health of children has made a major grant to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to study the genetics of families with blood cancer. See that release here.
I was pleased to tour the COVID-19 vaccination center set up in the Pipkin Building on the old Mid-South Fairgrounds earlier this month. But what I’ve heard since then prompts this week’s tip: The increased capacity is under-utilized, and there are no lines, but the surge in vaccinations supported by FEMA and the military personnel is scheduled to end May 17. If you haven’t yet received your free vaccination, it’s time to do so. Many people are in and out within 15 to 20 minutes, which includes the period where you must be observed for any reaction. As Spring arrives and we yearn to be out among our friends and families, being vaccinated will make it safer and more comfortable for everyone. Do it for yourself, your family, friends, and community. To make an appointment, go to https://covid19.memphistn.gov/ or call (901) 222-SHOT (7468).
Then-Vice President Cohen of the Tennessee Constitutional Convention in 1977 with the Vice President.
“I’m a liberal or a progressive. I didn’t use the ‘liberal’ word much, because I thought it carried too much baggage. But my whole life, I worked on the idea that government can be an instrument for social progress. We need that progress. Fairness requires it.” – Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, who died Monday at 93.
As always, I remain.