US House Passes ‘George Floyd Justice In Policing Act’ To End Police Misconduct
The US House of Representatives has passed a bill named in honour of George Floyd in an effort to prevent police misconduct.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was originally introduced and passed by House Democrats last year, however it failed to pass in the Senate, which was under Republican control at the time.
The bill was introduced after Floyd lost his life in May 2020, after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck during his arrest. Floyd’s death sparked global Black Lives Matter protests calling for police reform and recognition of racial injustice.
The House approved the legislation on Wednesday, March 3, but while Democrats now control the Senate, it’s still not clear if there will be enough Republican support to pass the bill.
Speaking to reporters about the bill, Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat who is leading police overhaul efforts in the House, said, ‘We are still trying to transform policing in the United States’, adding that she is ‘confident that we will be able to have a bipartisan bill in the Senate that will reach President Biden’s desk’.
Supporters of the bill have argued that it would improve accountability within law enforcement and work to root out racial bias in policing, CNN reports. The bill was opposed by two Democrats, Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Ron Kind of Wisconsin, while Republican Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas admitted after the vote that he supported it by accident.
Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican who led Senate efforts to address policing after Floyd’s death, expressed his hope that the government will be able to ‘come up with something that actually works’.
President Biden showed his support for the bill ahead of this week’s vote, writing on Twitter:
I am pleased that the House will vote next week on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. I encourage the House to pass it. Following Senate consideration, I hope to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill.
If passed, the legislation would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and mandate that deadly force ‘be used only as a last resort’.
It would set up a national registry of police misconduct that would prevent officers from evading consequences for their actions by moving to another jurisdiction, and ban racial and religious profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels.
The legislation would also overhaul qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that critics claim shields law enforcement from accountability. In doing so, individuals would be able to ‘to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights’, according to a fact sheet on the legislation cited by CNN.
Following the House vote, Bass said those behind the bill will begin discussions with the Senate ‘immediately’.
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