Karen Bass and NAACP President Discuss JPA and QI

Congresswoman Karen Bass and NAACP President Gerrick Johnson spoke with TIME on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death. The conversation centered around police reform. In a joint interview, Karen Bass and Gerrick Johnson discuss the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (JPA) and ending qualified immunity (QI). 

After a swift vote in the House on March 3, the JPA is now held up in the Senate. Republicans are unhappy with the Democrats’ proposal. As TIME indicates, conservatives want “a narrower slice of police reform.” Meaning, they want to cut out QI provision from the JPA. However, progressives are adamant about ending QI. Negotiations have stalled. Thus, the Senate missed President Joe Biden’s deadline. President Biden hoped to pass legislation by May 25. That’s the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death. 

Congresswoman Karen Bass belongs to a bipartisan commission working toward a consensus. Rep. Bass joined forces with Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Tim Scott to finalize the police-reform legislation. The Congresswoman tells TIME that talks are “moving forward.” She says the commission is close to striking a deal. Rep. Karen Bass wants to present “a substantive bill.”

NAACP President Gerrick Johnson says ending qualified immunity is not just substantive, but “essential.” TIME asked the NAACP president to share his views on the controversial doctrine. Reporter Abby Vesoulis asked Johnson what he thought of James Clyburn’s recent comments on QI. Specifically, how the House Majority Whip is willing to move forward on the JPA without addressing QI. 

Gerrick Johnson’s response: “We believe it is absolutely essential that qualified immunity reform is in this bill. It is the way to hold law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct.”

 For Johnson, the JPA’s provision to abolish QI gives the bill its “substance.” After all, there can be no real reform unless bad cops are held accountable. And “how do we get to accountability?” the NAACP president asks. By ending the doctrine of qualified immunity.

Read TIME’s interview with Congresswoman Karen Bass and NAACP President Gerrick Johnson here.