The House on Wednesday passed a bill to help prevent police misconduct, naming the law after a black man who was killed by Minneapolis police last May in a violent arrest that sparked protests nationwide against racial injustice and police brutality.
The George Floyd Police Justice Act passed 220-212 in the Democratic-controlled House. Legislation prohibits police from using stranglers and restraining warrants, requires collection of data on encounters with police, and ends qualified immunity – a legal doctrine often used to protect police from liability .
The bill also authorizes new grants for community organizations to implement evidence-based initiatives such as violence interruption and hospital violence intervention – strategies to ensure safety. neighborhoods that generally do not involve the police.
Ten months ago, then Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, who is white, killed Floyd after kneeling on his neck for several minutes while handcuffed and face down in the street. Images of the incident that went viral on social media showed Floyd asking officers for air, saying he couldn’t breathe. After pressure had already mounted due to the repeated deaths of blacks at the hands of the police, Floyd’s death shattered the roadblock and sparked protests across the country – with some calling for police reform, some requiring police funds to go to social services and others calling. for the abolition of the police.
“My city is not an outlier, but rather an example of the inequalities our country has struggled with for centuries,” said Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Whose district includes Minneapolis, while she chaired the debate in the House and called for a vote before the adoption of the bill.
“Today we are at a crossroads,” she added. “Will we have the moral courage to seek justice and achieve meaningful change, or will we succumb at this point?”
House Democrats first introduced and passed the bill, mostly along party lines, last year in the wake of Floyd’s death, but the legislation failed in the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats are hoping the bill will pass both chambers this time around, now that the Senate has a 50/50 partisan split, with Vice President Kamala Harris in a position to serve as a tiebreaker for Democrats.
“We will begin these discussions with the Senate immediately after the bill is passed,” Representative Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Who helps lead police reform efforts in the House, told reporters before. Wednesday’s vote. “Over the past few weeks, discussions, in particular with Senator Tim Scott (RS.C.) and Senator Cory Booker (DN.J.), have been ongoing.
But despite the passage of the bill in the House, not all advocacy groups agree with what they see as the limited scope of the bill.
“While we understand the urgency of enacting police reform at the federal level, we cannot do so in a way that only adds a veneer of justice while sacrificing real systemic change at the time of the crisis. more timely to achieve it, ”Maritza Perez, spokesperson for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement.
Perez noted that the bill did not fully address issues such as the militarization of police, rapid raids and police practices used disproportionately against people of color in drug investigations.
“Unfortunately, because House leaders chose to speed up last year’s bill, rather than address the concerns of advocates and community members, this is exactly the compromise they have. done, and today’s vote solidified those failures, ”she added. “The bill passed in the House does not provide for real reform and accountability and we oppose this bill in its current form.
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