Two weeks ago – and two subpoenas ago – in this space, I previewed the Metro Council Government Oversight Committee’s investigation into the response to the protests over the killing of Breonna Taylor. After the false start by administration officials, we planned to begin again from the beginning on Monday (8/17) at 2:30pm. Now that hearing, too, has been delayed. In the end the truth will come out; in the meantime, I asked questions about the case and other topics to Courier-Journal reporter Darcy Costello on Eight More Miles: the District 8 Podcast.
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Also this week, Councilwoman Jessica Green (D-1) and I filed new legislation adding to and codifying limitations on police use of force policies, inspired by Campaign Zero’s 8 Can’t Wait project. The ordinance aims to cure deficiencies relating to chokeholds and strangleholds, duty to intervene, shooting at moving vehicles and comprehensive reporting. We believe that “9 Can’t Wait,” so it generally bans the use of chemical agents, including tear gas, too. (Frankly, I think the mixture of the use of tear gas and the spread of COVID-19 absent extreme, exigent circumstances is unconscionable.)
To be fair, LMPD’s use of force standard operating procedures are more restrictive than the #8cantwait police accountability scorecard indicates and the department has recently enacted new tear gas and intervention policies in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and police violence against nonviolent protesters here. The ordinance goes one further, though, and continues the Metro Council’s steady (if seemingly slow) progress at policing reform. It will be assigned to the Public Safety Committee at next Thursday’s (8/20) Metro Council meeting.
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This afternoon (8/12), the Metro Council Community Affairs, Heath & Education Committee recommended for approval “the Buffer Zone Ordinance,” an ordinance to ensure safe, unobstructed entry to and exit from a healthcare facility. It is another example of the urgency of the current health pandemic and the seriousness and solemnity of local elected officials’ response to it. Because the legislation protects all legal healthcare facilities, including abortion clinics, it also involves a wedge issue that makes voting difficult politically and/or personally for a number of my colleagues. Notwithstanding, council members have put the rule of law above politics, others before self, health and safety first and debated the issue (in public and in private) in good faith – both yes and no voters. I respect others whose beliefs differ from mine but I believe access to legal healthcare should be safe and dignified. The Buffer Zone Ordinance makes space for our differences at a time when it is needed most. The whole council will vote on the ordinance at our next meeting and I expect it to be passed into law.
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