It was heartbreaking to watch the murder of George Floyd and equally painful to watch peaceful protests be hijacked by agitators who turned to rioting, violence and looting towards business – many were minority-owned – who were not remotely involved in this tragedy in Minneapolis.
I was moved to see so many individuals from the law enforcement community denounce the behavior in Minneapolis, including President Trump and our country’s top cop Attorney General Bill Barr, who said it was “harrowing to watch and deeply disturbing.”
In Indiana, Indianapolis’ Police Chief Randal Taylor echoed those remarks when he said, “I cannot understand or justify the actions captured on video in Minneapolis,” and numerous police chiefs from across the country who have said officers who don’t have an issue with George Floyd’s arrest should resign and turn in their badges.
For me, ensuring that similar tragedies don’t continue to occur included joining with Sen. Tim Scott, who has spent his entire life – including days in the U.S. Capitol – where he has faced police scrutiny while driving and walking, to enact meaningful changes to fix our criminal justice disparities.
Furthermore, I was one of the first senators to support Sen, Scott’s Walter Scott Act – named in honor of a South Carolinian man who was shot during a daytime traffic stop – that would force states to provide reporting on officer-related shooting. Should they fail to comply, states would see a 10 percent reduction in the funding they are eligible to receive from grants administrated from the Department of Justice.
Change is also coming to our communities, as the Indianapolis Police Department announced new policies that would update requirements for police to identify and warn people before using deadly force and clearly defined de-escalation requirements. It would also prohibit officers from firing into or from a moving vehicle and from conducting choke holds, which I strongly support banning.
Our brave law enforcement officials have a very difficult job, as they are entrusted to protect our streets, and these common-sense changes that are coming from individual police departments, not Washington, will hopefully work. Changes must come from the ground up, because the streets of New York City are different than Indianapolis, which are different than small towns like Jasper, Indiana.
While America remains the beacon of hope and opportunity, our country is not perfect, and now is a perfect opportunity to come together to reform police practices for the better, because I firmly believe our greatest days as a country are before us, not behind us and remind myself of Psalm 34:14 that says, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
Braun, a Republican from Jasper, represents Indiana in the U.S. Senate.