In Massachusetts and Virginia activists continue to fight to end qualified immunity, even after the critical accountability reform was cut out of major police reform bills. Both of these states that have passed police reform bills since the death of George Floyd in 2020 that activists described as “watered down.”
Brockton, Massachusetts activist Will Dickerson with the group DARRC said that he thinks “the bill was weakened and watered down by Baker in so many places, and we thought it really should’ve been stronger. We wanted to see a particular set of changes happen so that we can hold police officers more accountable.” Qualified immunity was dropped from the police reform bill after extensive negotiations between the Democratically controlled House and Senate in Massachusetts.
In Virginia, qualified immunity has also faced a lot of adversity in the Democratically controlled legislature. Delegate Jeff Bourne, who introduced the now tabled House Bill, said that “It seems when we’re talking about [qualified immunity], and when we’re talking about people getting hurt and their constitutional rights deprived by law enforcement officers, the story becomes different.”
Activist Princess Blanding, sister of Marcus-David Peters who was shot and killed by police while unarmed, said that “eliminating qualified immunity is a necessary step to end discrimination and achieve racial justice in the commonwealth.”