House Passes Landmark Police Reform Bill Named After George Floyd

(Photo Credit: vox.com)

On Wednesday, the House passed a landmark police reform bill. If it passes the Senate, the bill will ban officers from using chokeholds and other strangulation methods, get rid of ‘qualified immunity’ for police officers, and prohibit the use of no-knock warrants in federal drug cases. The bill, called the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, is named after George Floyd, the African American man whose murder at the hands of a white police officer last June in Minneapolis sparked worldwide outrage.

Racial and religious profiling would also be outlawed under the bill, and police departments would be encouraged to use diverse hiring methods to create a group of officers who are representative of the community they serve. The bill also includes the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Act, first introduced into the House in 2015, which makes the use of chokeholds and other strangulation methods a crime under Federal civil rights law.

The bill was passed after a mostly party-line vote of 220 to 212. However, if the bill is to pass the Senate, it will require the votes of at least 10 Republican Senators to succeed. The Democrats attempted to pass a similar bill last year, though it didn’t make it through the then-Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill has been widely praised and supported by Democrats, who see it as a necessary step towards ensuring police officers are accountable, and that the methods they use are safe. The bill is also designed to ensure that police departments reflect the communities they represent.

“Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them,” said a statement from Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat from California. “Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota.”

George Floyd, who was murdered by a white police officer last June. The bill is named after him. (Photo Credit: CNN)

However, many Republicans see the bill as a step too far. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, a Republican from Florida, even went as far as to suggest that the bill would “weaken and possibly destroy our community’s police forces.” Republicans are afraid that, if the powers of police officers are restricted too far, their ability to deal with crime may be impeded.

However, Democrats would refute this, saying that the bill is about making officers accountable to and representative of the communities they serve, and that the powers that were taken away were never needed in the first place.

President Biden expressed his support for the bill both in a tweet and in a statement he released on Monday. The statement read:

“To make our communities safer, we must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect. We cannot rebuild that trust if we do not hold police officers accountable for abuses of power and tackle systemic misconduct – and systemic racism – in police departments.”

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who is charged with killing Floyd, is due to start on 8th March. The other officers involved with Floyd’s murder will stand trial in August.

Sources:

House Approves George Floyd Police Reform Bill : NPR

Lawmakers Pass Sweeping ‘George Floyd’ Police Reform Bill | The Daily Caller

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