Ahead of Floyd murder trial, U.S. House clears police reforms

A sweeping police reform package was cleared by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, five days before the trial of a white officer charged with murdering African-American George Floyd.

The Bill is named after Floyd, who died last May when then-Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee on the victim’s neck for over eight minutes.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act cleared the House last year but was blocked in the Republican-led Senate. With President Joe Biden in office since January, and the Senate narrowly controlled by Democrats, the Bill was reintroduced last week and it was passed on Wednesday largely along party lines, 220 to 212.

Before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the “legislation will not erase centuries of systemic racism and excessive policing in America”, but it takes a “tremendous step” towards stopping the violence and improving relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

The Bill now heads to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain as the chamber is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

Key provisions

The measure bans choke holds and no-knock warrants, combats racial profiling, limits the transfer of military equipment to local police forces, expands police training, and establishes a database to track officer misconduct. Its most controversial provision is likely the restriction of officer immunity, which shielded police from civil lawsuits. Republicans have argued that the measure would strip police forces of funding, tie the hands of officers and make communities less safe.

House Republican Debbie Lesko warned that the Bill “leaves police unequipped to deal with dangerous or life-threatening situations and limits the tools that police can use in the field”.

Floyd’s family heralded the Bill's House passage in a statement from their lawyers on Wednesday evening.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 5:42:25 AM |

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