What is George Floyd Justice in Policing Act? House votes 220-212 to outlaw racial profiling and ban chokeholds

'Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them,' Rep Karen Bass, D-Calif, said


                            What is George Floyd Justice in Policing Act? House votes 220-212 to outlaw racial profiling and ban chokeholds
Demonstrators march down Pennsylvania Avenue near the Trump International Hotel during a protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 3, 2020, in Washington DC (Getty Images)

In a close call, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation aimed at preventing police misconduct that Democrats named in honor of George Floyd, whose death in police custody in May 2020 had sparked nationwide calls to overhaul police brutality and address racial injustice.

Two moderate Democrats — Reps Jared Golden of Maine and Ron Kind of Wisconsin — opposed the measure, while GOP Rep Lance Gooden of Texas said after the fact that he had voted for it by accident.

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A mural painted by artist Kenny Altidor depicting George Floyd is unveiled on a sidewall of CTown Supermarket on July 13, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City (Getty Images)

 

What is George Floyd Justice in Policing Act?

The House voted 220-212 to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, wide-ranging legislation which would, among other things, outlaw racial profiling, overhaul qualified immunity for police officers and ban chokeholds at the federal level. The legislation would also ban no-knock warrants, mandate data collection on police encounters and redirect funding to community-based policing programs.

Democrats had originally introduced and passed the bill on June 8, 2020, which passed on a mostly party-line vote of 236–181 in the wake of Floyd's death, but it never passed in the Senate, which was under Republican control at the time.

A billboard illustrating the killing of George Floyd hangs in Times Square on November 1, 2020, in New York City (Getty Images)

 

"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 to NPR. "Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota."

The legislation will set up a national registry of police misconduct to stop officers from evading consequences for their actions by moving to another jurisdiction. It would ban racial and religious profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels. It would also overhaul qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that critics say shields law enforcement from accountability.

A demonstrator protests as police forces hold a line near Lafayette Park and the White House on June 3, 2020, in Washington DC (Getty Images)

 

According to a fact sheet on the legislation reported by CNN, the measure would allow "individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement." The fact sheet also states that the legislation would "save lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants" and would mandate "deadly force be used only as a last resort." The vote had earlier been slated for Thursday, but the House made plans to vote on the bill Wednesday night.

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was charged with killing Floyd, is scheduled to begin in Minneapolis on March 8. Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes. He faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.

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