Hours Before #TyreNichols Video: Rs in #Virginia Vote for More Police Traffic Stops
Republicans never say “too much government” when it’s police brutality. By a vote of 53-45 Republicans in Virginia’s House of Delegates voted yesterday to pass HB1380 (roll call at bottom) — a bill that would make police traffic stops easier.
In 2020, State Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) sponsored a bill that became law barring police from stopping people for trivial reasons. The bill that passed the Virginia House yesterday would repeal that language. HB1380 was introduced last year by Del. Ronnie Campbell, who died on Dec. 13, 2022. His seat was filled by his wife Del. Ellen Campbell on Jan. 11.
Hours before video of Tyre🌹Nichols being beaten to death by a group of Memphis Police Officers after a traffic stop, in one of the worst police brutality videos ever, Virginia Republicans who control the Virginia House of Delegates decided to pass HB1380. Nichols was seen on video being assaulted by Memphis Police on Jan. 7 after a traffic stop. Nichols died on Jan. 10. HB1380 is expected to fail in the Virginia Senate, which is controlled 22-18 by Democrats.
Many police brutality videos and deaths that have gone viral over the last decade began with a trivial traffic stop. As video technology has exploded the public has been able to see the details of many of those encounters. In Virginia, study after study demonstrates that Black motorists are stopped at a higher percentage by police than all other citizens. Black Virginians make up 20 percent of the population yet are 30 percent of police traffic stops.
HB 1380 by Republican Ronnie Campbell: Issuing citations; certain traffic offenses. Removes the provisions that provide that no law-enforcement officer may lawfully stop a motor vehicle for operating (i) without a light illuminating a license plate, (ii) with defective and unsafe equipment, (iii) without brake lights or a high mount stop light, (iv) without an exhaust system that prevents excessive or unusual levels of noise, (v) with certain sun-shading materials and tinting films, and (vi) with certain objects suspended in the vehicle, and the accompanying the exclusionary provisions.
Trivial traffic stops that resulted in a fatality have been widely studied. In April 2022, The Guardian reported that police in the U.S. “killed nearly 600 people during traffic stops since 2017.”
In Oct. 2021, the New York Times ran a lengthy investigative piece called Why Many Police traffic Stops Turn Deadly and noted, “officers, trained to presume danger, have reacted with outsize aggression. For hundreds of unarmed drivers, the consequences have been fatal.”
In Virginia, the Dec. 5, 2020, the Windsor Police traffic stop of Army Lt. Caron Nazario produced a viral video that made national news and prompted calls for federal investigation as police pulled their guns and pepper sprayed Lt. Nazario, who was wearing Army fatigues. On Jan. 18, a federal jury considering the civil lawsuit filed by Lt. Nazario for $1 million decided to only award him $3,685. Lt. Nazario’s attorneys are requesting a new trial.
In Virginia, law enforcement officials reached out to members of the faith community before the video in Memphis was released publicly. In Sept. 2022, Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services provided the data below on police traffic stops and race:
Yesterday, State Senator L. Louise Lucas reacted to the attempt by Republicans in the House of Delegates to repeal her bill against trivial traffic stops by police:
On the eventing of Jan. 27, President Biden released a statement that in part read:
“I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death. It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day… Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. That is why I called on Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to my desk. When Senate Republicans blocked that bill, I signed an executive order that mandated stricter use of force standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local level.”
Richmond City Council also released a statement on Tyre Nichols:
Last night, Jan. 27, Governor Glenn Youngkin released a statement after the video of Memphis Police beating Tyre Nichols was released publicly:
“The hearts of Virginians and our entire nation ache tonight as we struggle with the horrible events in Memphis and grieve for Tyre Nichols and his family. The disturbing and shocking video released this evening displays incomprehensible violence towards another human being and we must condemn these heinous actions.
As we process these agonizing events, I ask those exercising their first amendment rights to do so peacefully. We will ensure Virginians’ first amendment rights as we prioritize and protect the safety of the Commonwealth and all Virginians. We can choose to come together and not further the divide. We must strive each day to better our communities and treat one another with love and respect.
Suzanne and I are praying for the family of Tyre and for the continued safety of the Commonwealth, all Virginians and our men and women in law enforcement.”
The roll call on HB 1380, which took place on Jan. 27, 2023.
YEAS-- Adams, L.R., Anderson, Austin, Avoli, Ballard, Batten, Bell, Bloxom, Brewer, Bulova, Byron, Campbell, E.H., Campbell, J.L., Cherry, Cordoza, Coyner, Davis, Durant, Edmunds, Fariss, Fowler, Freitas, Greenhalgh, Head, Hodges, Kilgore, Knight, LaRock, Leftwich, March, Marshall, McGuire, McNamara, Morefield, O'Quinn, Orrock, Ransone, Robinson, Runion, Scott, P.A., Tata, Taylor, Wachsmann, Walker, Wampler, Ware, Webert, Wiley, Williams, Wilt, Wright, Wyatt, Mr. Speaker--53.
NAYS-- Bagby, Bennett-Parker, Bourne, Carr, Clark, Delaney, Filler-Corn, Glass, Gooditis, Guzman, Hayes, Helmer, Herring, Hope, Hudson, Jenkins, Kory, Krizek, Lopez, Maldonado, McQuinn, Mullin, Mundon King, Murphy, Plum, Price, Rasoul, Reid, Roem, Scott, D.L., Seibold, Sewell, Shin, Sickles, Simon, Simonds, Subramanyam, Sullivan, Torian, Tran, VanValkenburg, Ward, Watts, Willett, Williams Graves--45.
NOT VOTING-- Adams, D.M., Convirs-Fowler-- 2
FYI: Justice reform lobby day in Richmond is Feb. 8:
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The traffic stops targeting Black Virginians are truly horrible, and I long for a day where black parents of new drivers don't feel it's necessary to have "the talk." I'm wondering, though, if some votes for increasing traffic stops in Virginia come from people like me who live in a predominately White neighborhood where there is no police presence stopping drivers who commit all sorts of offences. The worst in my neighborhood are from drivers who not only fail to stop at stop signs but instead shoot through them going way over the speed limit. Send the police to my neighborhood where there are terrible driver offenses and stop wasting time stopping Black drivers who are doing nothing wrong.