Wednesday night, the Massachusetts House passed an amendment by representative Liz Miranda that would prevent no-knock entry by police warrant if there’s reason to think there are children or people over 65 on the premises. It passed by the slimmest of margins: 83-76. Miranda was shaken after the vote: How is it, after the death of Breonna Taylor, that a vote like this can be so close, in the supposedly liberal state of Massachusetts?
But as Rep. Nika Elugardo pointed out on Twitter, a few years ago an amendment of this kind might never have come to the floor at all.
Does representation matter? Sure seems that way. And not just representation but constant pressure and ferment in primaries at the state rep level. This is where ordinary citizens can have outsize impact. Elugardo’s 2018 upset victory over Jeff Sanchez looms large today, both in her own presence; and as a reminder to other reps that their own place is precarious.
With such a slim margin of victory, one wonders if this amendment will survive conference committee and the governor’s line item veto. Both conferees and the governor should know that everyone is watching. Across the Commonwealth, for months now, folks have been taking the streets for weeks demanding justice for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd — and to prevent future police violence here in Massachusetts. I’m sure that many legislators sent out some message of solidarity, perhaps invoking #BlackLivesMatter. I wonder if some of them voted against this amendment.
The past few months brought a change in public attitude. No longer is there unquestioned credulity for any police tactic deemed “necessary“ in the moment; and near-total immunity from accusation of wrongdoing – even obvious constitutional abuses, up to and including murder.
It’s not “#BlackLivesMatterExceptWhenThePoliceUnionsObject”. So if our legislators’ pious outrage and proclamations are something other than preening hypocrisy and the emptiest of words, they had better make Miranda’s amendment the law. And a lot more.