House lawmakers passed sweeping police reform legislation Wednesday named after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck in May 2020.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act bans chokeholds, eliminates qualified immunity for law enforcement and prohibits no-knock warrants. The bill was passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 220 – 212, NPR reported.
Racial and religious profiling would also be prohibited, and the bill would encourage police departments to use diverse hiring practices to hire officers that are representative of the community they serve. It also establishes a Task Force on Law Enforcement Oversight within the Department of Justice that will oversee complaints about law enforcement misconduct and mandates federal data collection on law enforcement agencies.
At least 5% of a police department’s funding must be redirected towards community-based programs like counseling services and increased training for police officers, according to the bill’s text. (RELATED: These Are The Major Cities Enacting Police Reforms Following Wave Of Police Brutality Protests)
“Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them,” said Democratic California Rep. Karen Bass in a statement, according to NPR. “Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota.”
President Joe Biden supported the bill’s passage.
“I am pleased that the House will vote next week on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” Biden said Feb. 25 on Twitter. “I encourage the House to pass it.”
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.
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 25, 2021
Anti-police protests and riots erupted nationwide over the summer after the death of George Floyd. Many protesters called for defunding or abolishing the police and replacing it with “community-based programs.”
Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar said during a debate on the House floor that Floyd’s death traumatized Minneapolis.
“Time and time again we have witnessed the people who are sworn to protect our communities abuse their power,” Omar said according to the report.
A similar version of the bill failed in the Republican-controlled Senate last year, and Senate Democrats will have to convince 10 Republicans to vote for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in order for it to succeed.
The trial of the former police officer charged with killing Floyd, Derek Chauvin, is scheduled to begin Monday in Minneapolis. He faces charges of manslaughter and second-degree murder. Heavy police presence, including the National Guard, is scheduled to be present during the trial to attempt to prevent rioting.