Oct 1, 2021

PREVIEW: How police reform failed

Not long ago, police reform felt like the most pressing issue in America.

In the wake of George Floyld's death, a national reckoning on race relations ushered in one major demand from progressives and even many middle-of-the-road Democrats: fixing the way policing works in our country.

Progressives found common cause with community leaders from urban areas, Libertarians, small-government conservatives and traditionally establishment Democrats who had long been supportive of police unions and standard police practices more generally.

A Black Republican Senator from South Carolina named Tim Scott took up the cause, joining hands with his Democratic colleagues — Sen. Corey Booker from New Jersey and Rep. Karen Bass from California. For anyone who cared about the issue and allowed themselves a moment of hope, it was easy to muster optimism that the federal government was finally going to do something — anything — to change the way policing worked in America.

But last week, with the country's eyes on Afghanistan, infrastructure, Haitian migrants, abortion laws in Texas and our beef with France, police reform in Congress quietly died.

The news made very little waves on Instagram or Twitter, where pleas for reform were so popular just a short year ago. It barely registered on my radar, and I'm a political reporter who cares deeply about this issue and has covered it extensively in this newsletter. So... what happened?

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