The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was passed by the House lawmakers today. This police reform bill bans chokeholds and eliminates ‘qualified immunity’ for law enforcement. Floyd, a 46 year old black man was killed by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020.
The bill bans ‘no-knock warrants, mandates data collection on police encounters, prohibits racial and religious profiling and redirect funding to community-based policing programs.’ The Democratic representative from California, Karen Bass reportedly said, ‘Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them. Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota.’ Ilhan Omar, Democratic representative of Minnesota said on the floor of the house that people who have power in order to protect communities abuse their power.
Republicans under whose control the house was last year had failed to pass the bill. According to them this legislation, ‘goes too far and would prevent police from doing their jobs effectively.’
In its statement urging the House to vote in favor of the proposal, Joe Biden’s administration had noted, “To make our communities safe, 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 abuse of power and tackle systemic misconduct – and systemic racism – in police departments.”
Floyd’s killing by the police initiated strong anti-racism protests across the world. ‘Black Life Matters’ was the guiding spirit of these protests. As Kanishk Tharoor wrote, ‘The grotesque murder of George Floyd has brought people to the streets at an unprecedented scale and led to a widespread desire to confront the long, tangled histories of racism undergirding many Western societies.’