Assemblywoman Angela McKnight proposes legislation to combat police brutality

The proposed bill would update the use of force policy across the state

Assemblywoman Angela McKnight takes a selfie with Mayor Davis at the Bayonne protest.
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Assemblywoman Angela McKnight takes a selfie with Mayor Davis at the Bayonne protest.

As peaceful protests in honor of George Floyd and against police brutality continue across the country, some lawmakers have heard the calls for change and are coming up with ideas for new laws. Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson) has a plan.

Demonstrations have been erupting across the country in response to police brutality against African Americans, specifically the death of Floyd by police. Floyd was an unarmed African-American man who was killed in Minneapolis when police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Floyd was later pronounced dead. Chauvin has since been fired and charged with murder and manslaughter. In response to mass demonstrations, Chauvin’s charges were upgraded and the other police officers on scene during the call have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the commission of a felony.

Assemblywoman McKnight is proposing legislation that combats police brutality.

Updating use of force policy

McKnight is a Democrat representing the 33rd legislative district, including parts of Bayonne and Jersey City.

Now, McKnight is proposing a bill that would require enforcement of an updated policy for use of force by each law enforcement agency in the state. The bill also requires a Civilian Complaint Review Board in each municipality.

“George Floyd is unfortunately just one horrifying tragedy in a long, long line of lives lost to senseless violence,” McKnight said in a statement. “His is not the first case that we’ve seen recorded by a cell phone video or played through the media, but I want to do all I can to make sure his death is not in vain, and that we make sweeping changes to end excessive use of force by police officers.”

The legislation proposed is the first step to clarifying guidelines of what can and cannot be done by police while interacting with the community.

“Putting guidelines in place to regulate use of force is just one major pillar of the holistic police reform necessary to improve police and community relations in the Black community,” McKnight said. “I also encourage local government leaders to re-evaluate their budgets as it relates to reallocating funding to critical community and social services.”

McKnight intends to work with Gov. Phil Murphy and NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to put in place a system of checks and balances against police brutality.

“It will take a collaborative effort from the local, state and federal levels to bring about comprehensive change in the wake of the death of George Floyd and so many other Black lives that have been lost around the country at the hands of police officers, and I welcome all stakeholders to the table.”

She is also proposing a resolution condemning police brutality.

Kneeling in solidarity

In Bayonne and Jersey City, there have already been a number of peaceful protests and demonstrations in honor of Floyd and against police brutality.

Assemblywoman McKnight was present alongside municipal leaders at the “Power in the Park” demonstration in Bayonne on June 7.

“Today, I attended the Peaceful Protest in Bayonne. I took a knee for 8 mins. and 46 seconds,” McKnight said. “It was a painful experience. As I kneel, I kept thinking of the pain George Floyd had endured having a knee pinned on his neck.”

More protests are planned in both cities, as some organizers don’t plan on stopping the protests until reform is achieved. With McKnight’s proposed legislation, this may be the first step in accomplishing systemic change and ending police brutality.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.