Jun 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The real-life changes won by the protests

Image of protesters outside the White House

Demonstrators protest near the White House June 4. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Marchers have delivered a clear message in the 19 days since George Floyd was killed — change how America's police treat black people, and do it now.

The big picture: If you look beyond the symbolic gestures and focus on the concrete actions, there's a good deal of there there, even if it's still insufficient.

Here is just a partial list of the actions under way because of the protests:

  • Tactical rule changes: Dallas and Minneapolis mandated officers intervene when a colleague is using excessive force. Seattle banned the covering of badge numbers. Minneapolis banned chokeholds. Houston banned most of them. New York made them illegal.
  • Budget cuts: Los Angeles is considering cutting its police budget by up to $150 million. NYC is considering cuts, but hasn't disclosed specific numbers.
  • Defunding: Minneapolis' city council passed a resolution on Friday to replace its police department with a community-centric model.
  • School contracts axed: Minneapolis, Denver and Portland have moved to end the presence of police officers in local schools. Officers have a presence in the 25 biggest school districts nationwide, per Chalkbeat.
  • No-knock warrants ban: Louisville, Kentucky — where Breonna Taylor was killed by officers who raided her home with this type of warrant — has banned the practice.
  • Police transparency changes: New York removed a shield clause that locked down records of officers who'd been investigated for excessive force.
  • Go deeper: Axios' Orion Rummler catalogued quite a few more changes.

Between the lines: It is ridiculously hard to fire police officers in the U.S., let alone getting criminal charges to stick.

  • Chalk that up to unions, or qualified immunity, or weakness from elected officials — but it's a major roadblock to change.
  • The Minneapolis Police Department said Wednesday that it is withdrawing from negotiations with its police union. The real effect of that is to be determined.

The bottom line: This is a start, but it doesn't even come close to the level of change organizers have publicly demanded. Expect the protests to be here for a long time to come.

Go deeper: The major police reforms that have been enacted since George Floyd's death

Go deeper