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House passes police reform act named after George Floyd banning chokeholds and qualified immunity

"Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them," Rep. Karen Bass said in a statement.

House passes police reform act named after George Floyd banning chokeholds and qualified immunity
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/ US Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) speaks as other House Democrats listen during an event on police reform on June 25, 2020, at the east front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong)

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a police reform bill that would ban chokeholds and overhaul qualified immunity protections for officers. Democratic lawmakers believe the legislation will reduce police violence against people of color, particularly Black Americans, while improving policing for everyone. "At some point, we have to ask ourselves, how many more people have to die? How many more people have to be brutalized on videotape?" Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), who introduced the bill, said ahead of its passage. "We must act now to transform policing in the United States."




"Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them," she added in a statement, reports NPR. "Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota." H.R. 1280 would also ban no-knock warrants, mandate data collection on police encounters, prohibit racial and religious profiling, and redirect funding to community-based policing programs. According to NBC News, although the bill passed 220-212, a Republican representative changed the official record to reflect his opposition saying that he'd voted yes by mistake.




The vote came nine months after George Floyd, a Black man, died after a White Minneapolis police officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for minutes on May 25 last year. In a debate on the House floor Wednesday evening prior to the vote, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said Minneapolis is still traumatized by the 46-year-old's death. "Time and time again we have witnessed the people who are sworn to protect our communities abuse their power," she said. Although the House had passed a version of the bill last year, the Republican-controlled Senate never took it up.




This time around, Democrats have the support of the White House and a slight edge in the Senate. However, they will still have to sway at least 10 Republican members for the bill to succeed. Representative Bass said she is confident that House members will be able to work with the Senate to get H.R. 1280 passed, saying that after the last bill passed, "many of our Republican colleagues said they thought they could get to yes on this, but they had some difficulties."




"One of the things that has happened in the last 12 months, though, is that many states moved ahead without us, and they started passing reforms," Bass said. "So, this time, when we sit down to meet, we can talk about reforms that are already in place." Meanwhile, Republicans claim the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act goes too far and would prevent police from doing their jobs effectively. Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida said on the House floor that the bill would "weaken and possibly destroy our community's police forces." On the other hand, the Biden administration threw its support behind the bill earlier this week, releasing a statement urging the House to vote in favor of the proposal.




"To make our communities safe, we must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect," the statement said. "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." President Biden also pushed for its passage on Twitter on Monday, tweeting: "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."




Attorneys for the Floyd family, Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci, issued a statement on behalf of the family expressing gratitude to House leadership and urging the Senate to pass the bill. "This represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of color and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of color," they said.

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