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House lawmakers on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a bill on police reform that bans chokeholds and removes qualified immunity for law enforcement. The 220-212 vote came nine months after Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed by police officers in Minneapolis last spring.
The far-reaching legislation would also ban no-knock warrants, obtain data collection on police meetings, ban racial and religious profiling, and redirect funding to community-based police programs.
“Never again should an unarmed person be murdered or brutalized by someone to serve and protect them,” the rep said. Karen Bass, D-California, in a statement. “Never again should the world be subject to witness what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets of Minnesota.”
In the debate on the floor of the house on Wednesday night before the vote, the Democratic rep said. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota that Minneapolis is still traumatized by Floyd’s death. “We have repeatedly witnessed the people who have sworn to protect our society abuse their power,” she said.
Last year, Parliament passed a similar version of the bill, but it failed in the Republican-controlled Senate. This time, Senate Democrats will have to sway at least 10 Republican members for the bill to succeed.
Republicans say the legislation goes too far and would prevent police from doing their jobs effectively. Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida said on the floor of the House Wednesday that the bill would “weaken and possibly destroy our community’s police forces.”
Earlier this week, the Biden administration released a statement urging Parliament to vote in favor of the proposal.
“To secure our community, we must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they have been tasked with serving and protecting,” the statement said. “We can not rebuild that trust if we do not hold police officers accountable for abuse of power and tackle systemic misconduct – and systemic racism – in the police.”
On Monday, President Biden also pushed for his passage on Twitter.
“After considering the Senate, I hope to be able to sign a milestone reform on police reform,” he said.
I’m glad Parliament will vote next week on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. I call on Parliament to adopt it. Following Senate deliberations, I hope to be able to sign a milestone reform on police reform.
– President Biden (@POTUS) February 25, 2021
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing Floyd, is scheduled to begin in Minneapolis on March 8. Chauvin, who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, faces second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Heavy security measures, including barricades and fences around the courthouse, have been put in place before the trial. And thousands of police officers and National Guard personnel will be in Minneapolis next week.
The other officers involved in Floyd’s killing will be tried at a separate hearing in August.