Elijah McClain’s mother attends signing of executive order on police reform, but says Biden’s plan wouldn’t have helped her son
Sheneen McClain’s experience at the White House on Wednesday — meeting the president and hearing about his executive order to bring more accountability to federal law enforcement — has inspired her to possibly run for office herself someday.
McClain, the mother of Elijah McClain, who died after being violently arrested and forcibly given ketamine in Aurora in 2019, was invited to be a guest at a ceremony celebrating an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on the two-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
The order, which affects federal law enforcement only, will create a national database of police misconduct, bans chokeholds and tracks data on use of force incidents for all federal law enforcement. It also orders new guidance on the use of substances, like ketamine, outside of a hospital setting.
But McClain said she isn’t satisfied.
“It would not have kept my son alive. If this executive order would have been in place on the day he died, he still would have died,” she said, in a phone interview from a bench on the White House lawn. “There needs to be so much more done on the state level.”
McClain added she still has a long road to go to see both large-scale reform and justice in her son’s death.
“I feel like I got invited to a very important party,” she said. “I still go home to Colorado. I still have to go to trial and see the people who murdered my son who are not yet convicted … How does this affect me when I go home? It doesn’t.”
Her lawyer, Qusair Mohamedbhai, said the White House reached out to them because Colorado is known nationally for its police reform legislation in recent years. Various bills have changed use of force rules, banned chokeholds, made it easier to sue officers directly and have limited the use of ketamine in law enforcement settings.
“The executive order was a communication to Congress and that the limited abilities of the executive orders were recognized, but Congress has the ability to impact states,” Mohamedbhai said. “There was a lot of compromise the executive order had to make with law enforcement.”
McClain heads back to Colorado on Thursday. She said she’s seen some Washington, D.C., sights and met a number of other families and victims of police violence, including George Floyd’s brother, with whom she exchanged cell phone numbers.
She acknowledged that Biden did “the best he could do.”
“The president can’t do it by himself … It takes all of us, the people put them in place, but who is really in control here?” she said. “I don’t know, maybe I should run. I’m honestly thinking about it. I just don’t know what office I want to be in, because either way it goes, I know I’ll be frustrated.”
You want to know what is really going on these days, especially in Colorado. We can help you keep up. The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!