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After the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, advocates for police reform called to defund the police, ban chokeholds and more effectively punish officers who abuse their power or show racial bias. Before any of those proposed reforms can actually go into effect, lawmakers and department chiefs would first have to get past police unions.

Over the course of decades, police unions have fought to secure generous benefits for rank-and-file officers and helped make the dangerous job of police work more attractive to hundreds of thousands of officers. But when their members come under scrutiny for police brutality and heavy-handed tactics, it's the union that often serves as their first line of defense. 

The New York Police Benevolent Association and the Fraternal Order of Police did not respond to CNBC's requests for comment. 

Watch the video above to learn about how police unions work in an age of increasing calls for law enforcement reform.

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10 powerful photos of Lewis Hamilton, 13 other Formula 1 drivers kneeling before Austrian GP

Coronavirus updates: Phoenix mayor says Arizona opened too soon; FDA chief balks at backing Trumps pandemic claims As Black buying power grows, racial profiling by retailers remains persistent problem 10 powerful photos of Lewis Hamilton, 13 other Formula 1 drivers kneeling before Austrian GP

The 2020 Formula 1 season officially started Sunday with the Austrian Grand Prix, nearly four months after the season was originally scheduled to begin before being delayed by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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During the hiatus, Lewis Hamilton emerged as a leader among F1 drivers and figures by speaking out against racism, joining protests against police brutality and racial injustice and creating his own commission to help increase diversity in motor sports. He’s encouraged others in the sport to use their platforms to speak up too, and he’s called out those who have remained silent or made racist comments.

Hamilton’s team, Mercedes, has also replaced its traditional silver livery with an incredible black scheme as part of its effort to stand against racism and raise awareness. And F1 created its own initiative to combat racism and inequality in racing.

So Sunday ahead of the Australian Grand Prix season-opener, the series’ 20 drivers stood together on the grid while wearing “End Racism” t-shirts — a message that was also written on the grid itself. Hamilton, however, wore a “Black Lives Matter” shirt.

End Racism.

One cause. One commitment.

As individuals, we choose our own way to support the cause. As a group of drivers and a wider F1 family, we are united in its goal.#WeRaceAsOne

— Formula 1 (@F1) July 5, 2020

Most drivers also took a knee during for a moment before the race, but six opted to remain standing, as the BBC noted: Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz.

About the pre-planned gesture, Hamilton said those who did not want to kneel was because of a lack of understanding. Via the BBC:

“I just described the scenario that silence is really generally complicit. There is some silence in some cases,” said Hamilton, F1’s only black driver.

“But I think it is part of a dialogue of people trying to understand because there are still some people who don’t fully understand what is happening and what is the reason for these protests and I continue to try to be that guider and try to influence as many people as I can with it.”

Here are 10 photos of F1 drivers kneeling before the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday — and a bonus one of a post-race gesture too.


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