WASHINGTON (KCTV/CNN) -- The dramatic images rocked the nation -- hundreds of thousands of people from all races taking to the streets across the United States, demanding an end to excessive police force against people of color.
What began as local outrage in response to George Floyd's death following an encounter with Minneapolis police officers soon spread throughout the country.
From coast to coast, demonstrators chanting "Black lives matter" and "no justice, no peace" united in hundreds of mostly peaceful protests, some risking their own safety. They found themselves tear gassed near the White House, allegedly assaulted by police in New York City, and shoved to the pavement by tactical teams in Buffalo.
Despite the personal risk, their voices were heard by fellow citizens and politicians alike, as demonstrators sparked a protest movement unlike anything the country has seen since the 1960s.
But it all may have been for nothing.
Partisan politics appears to have derailed any meaningful near-term reform.
In Minnesota, Floyd's death -- caught on camera by a bystander as a White police officer kneeled on Floyd's neck until he lost consciousness -- sparked a reform movement. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz responded by calling a special session of the state's legislature to address emergency policing reform measures.
Walz said reform measures would be aimed at police violence, grants for rebuilding local infrastructure, accountability and transparency.
But legislators had little to show for their efforts. Partisan entrenchment ruled the day, as the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-led House clashed over nearly two-dozen policing reform measures.
House Democratic efforts to end warrior-type training for officers, instill residency requirements for police officers, ban choke holds and institute voting rights for felons grinded to a halt as Senate Republicans responded with more narrow reforms.
Despite widespread calls for reform, the special legislative session came up empty handed.
On Tuesday, Congress will once again discuss police reform.
Democrats have introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It has passed through the House or Representatives. The bill, among other things, would end chokeholds, qualified immunity and create a database for officers who have been accused of violations to make it easier to track.
“Many of these young people don’t believe change is possible, certainly they believe the political process is not the way to do it. So, if we go in with milk toast legislation, we think that will be so discouraging to these young people and we just can’t do it. We will not do it. I think they would see us as traitors,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.
The Justice in Policing Act is not a done deal. For it to become a law, it would have to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate and on to the president who has already said he’d veto it.
The GOP proposal, called the Justice Act, did not make it out of Senate.
Democrats say the Justice Act focuses on data collection instead of legal changes to address police misconduct.
“The goal ought to be to help police get what they need to do their jobs in the best possible way. Every community deserves the protection of the rule of law. But Democrats appear to have no interest in passing reforms. They won’t even allow the Senate to debate the issue. They want to score political points and attack the police. They have aligned themselves with ridiculous and dangerous proposals such as defunding the police, which I will never support,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
Cleaver says he does not support defunding the police, which is something protestors have been demanding but he does hope both sides come to an agreement soon.
“I don’t want this to end up like all of the shootings, where for a brief moment there is a goal and desire to get something done then like the snowflake that hits the desert it just melts away. We want this to be something that we can deliver,” he said.
For its part, the White House attempted to exert a leadership role in the national policing debate, but an executive order signed by Trump earlier this month has been criticized by his opponents, such as Sen. Kamala Harris of California, as window dressing that encourages reforms but comes with no apparent enforcement mechanisms.
The President's executive order calls for the banning of choke holds by law enforcement officers, for example, but makes an exception for "those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law."
Advocates who want to eliminate the technique outright seized on this loophole, which would allow an officer to use a choke hold if they fear their life is in danger.
"All police that use choke holds claim their lives were threatened," wrote Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, after Trump announced his executive order.
The issue of banning choke holds will remain controversial. Some policing experts contend that, in a deadly situation where an officer is fighting for his or her life, anything goes.
While Trump's order purportedly takes aim at officers who "misuse" their authority, the President himself has called for the use of excessive force against those in custody.
Upon taking office, Trump praised the aggressive tactics of immigration officers and suggested that police shouldn't protect the heads of handcuffed suspects being put in the back of a car.
"When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in rough. I said, 'Please don't be too nice,'" Trump said to applause as he addressed a crowd of police officers in New York state.
His comments were met with scorn by various law enforcement agencies.