The National Medical Association expressed condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd, and the largest and oldest national organization representing African-American physicians and their patients in the United States is calling for reforms to police practices in the interest of public health.
“The killing of George Floyd is another reminder of the lingering effects of institutional racism in many communities throughout these United States,” the association stated. “The conduct of these police officers is reprehensible and requires a full criminal and administrative investigation.”
In addition to an investigation into the police responsible for Floyd’s death even as Floyd clearly told them he was dying, the association called for a number of policy reforms.
The NMA called for “the immediate discontinuation of police practices that include life-threatening maneuvers like the 'choke hold' and the practice of placing weight or force, by any means, on a restrained person's neck, which is particularly vulnerable to injury that can easily result in death.”
In addition to Floyd, who endured the fatal force of a kneeling cop on his neck, the NMA referenced Freddie Gray, who died after being transported by Baltimore police while handcuffed but not belted in.
“Any occurrence of these unauthorized and potentially life-threatening practices being used by law enforcement should result in immediate dismissal and formal investigation of the officer/officers involved” the NMA demanded.
The police officers responsible for Floyd’s death were fired.
The NMA called for the “immediate development of a federal office responsible for the review of all fatal police excessive-use-of-force cases occurring in local jurisdictions.” Many officers responsible for civilian deaths are put on desk duty, and many fired officers easily find work in other police departments.
The NMA demanded that police officers be “required to voluntarily report any witnessed unauthorized or excessive use of police force by a fellow officer, with an omission of reporting such instances “considered an act of complicity.”
Though police complain about the “snitch” culture on the streets that keeps many people from testifying about crimes they witnessed, police themselves are notoriously reluctant to testify against other officers.
The NMA called for uniform reporting of all deaths by law enforcement utilizing the U.S. Standard Death Certificate.
The association also called for a national policy mandating implicit bias and anti-racism training for all law enforcement agencies.
Though the NMA addressed its concerns nationally, police policy is decided locally within minimal state standards. The Obama administration formed a task force on police reform that published a report in May 2015 that largely has been ignored by police departments.
President Trump has personally encouraged police officers to inflict pain on suspects while placing them under arrest or transporting them.
While speaking to police and crime victims on Long Island in July 2017, Trump said, “When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see ’em thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting the head. You know? The way you put the hand over [the head], like ‘Don’t hit their head’ and they’ve just killed somebody, ‘Don’t hit their head.’ I said, ‘You can take the hand away,’ OK?”
The NMA has long asserted police excessive use of force as a public health issue and has published both a position statement on police excess use of force and a position paper on urban violence in minority communities.