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Almost a year after an Afro-American was killed by excessive police force leading to a massive wave of protests around the country against police brutality and racism, a new bill passed in the House of Representatives might bring some actual change.
House lawmakers on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a sweeping police reform bill that would ban chokeholds and alter so-called qualified immunity for law enforcement, making it easier to pursue claims of police misconduct.
The wide-ranging legislation would also ban no-knock warrants in certain cases, mandate data collection on police encounters, prohibit racial and religious profiling, and redirect funding to community-based policing programs.
"Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them," said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., in a statement. "Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota."
The 220-212 vote, mostly along party lines, came nine months after Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed by Minneapolis police officers almost a year ago.
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said during the debate before the vote that Minneapolis is still traumatized by Floyd's death. "Time and time again, we have witnessed the people who are sworn to protect our communities abuse their power," she said.
US House passes police reforms bill to overhaul and create national standards for policing in the country. The bill, named after George Floyd, aims to ban chokeholds and qualified immunity. @alysonle tells you more pic.twitter.com/kCATwJ5bGZ
A version of the bill passed in the House last year, but it was later killed in the Republican-controlled Senate. This new bill will require Senate Democrats to sway at least 10 Republican members to be approved in the Senate.
Republicans claim that the legislation goes too far and would prevent police from doing their jobs effectively. Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida said on the House floor Wednesday that the bill would "weaken and possibly destroy our community's police forces."
The Biden administration has been pushing for the approval of the bill in recent weeks and released 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. 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."
#FromTheSouth News Bits | Calling for unity in first speech as president, the 46th President of the United States Joe Biden referred to recent events, calling on citizens to overcome the divisions and declaring that without unity there is no peace. pic.twitter.com/3F7K0bkWcQ