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House lawmakers on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a law reforming police force that bans and eliminates chokeholds qualified immunity for law enforcement. The vote between 220 and 212 came nine months after Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died last spring by Minneapolis police officers.
The extensive legislation would also ban no-knock warrants, mandate data collection on police encounters, racist and religious profiling, and redirect funding to community-based police programs.
“An unarmed person should never again be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them,” Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., Said in a statement. “Never again should the world witness what happened to George Floyd on the streets of Minnesota.”
In a debate on Wednesday night before the vote on the House floor, Democratic MP Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said Minneapolis was still traumatized by Floyd’s death. “Time and again we’ve seen people who swore to protect our communities abuse their power,” she said.
Last year the house a similar version of the bill passed, but it failed in the Republican-controlled Senate. This time around, the Senate Democrats must influence at least 10 Republican members for the bill to be successful.
Republicans say the legislation goes too far and prevents the police from doing their job effectively. Florida Republican MP Carlos Gimenez said on the floor of the house on Wednesday that the bill “would weaken and potentially destroy the police force in our community.”
Earlier this week, the Biden government released a statement calling on the House to vote for the proposal.
“To protect our communities, we must first rebuild trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they serve and protect,” the statement said. “We cannot rebuild that trust unless we hold police officers accountable for abuse of power and combat systemic misconduct – and systemic racism – in police departments.”
On Monday, President Biden also pushed for the adoption on Twitter.
“After Senate scrutiny, I hope to be able to incorporate landmark law on police reform into law,” he said.
I am pleased that the House will be voting on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act next week. I encourage the House to say goodbye. After the Senate review, I hope to include a landmark law on police reform in the law.
– President Biden (@POTUS) February 25, 2021
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with Floyd’s murder, is on should begin in Minneapolis on 8th of March. Chauvin, who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for a few minutes, is charged with murder and second degree manslaughter.
Heavy security measures were put in place prior to the trial, including barricades and fences around the courthouse. And thousands of police and National Guard officers will be in Minneapolis next week.
The other officers involved in Floyd’s murder will be tried in a separate hearing in August.