House votes to pass George Floyd Justice in Policing Act: Police reforms hailed
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, an effort to improve law enforcement accountability and root out racial bias in policing, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The bill includes a ban on police chokeholds, a ban of no-knock warrants, an end to the qualified immunity doctrine that is a barrier to holding police officers accountable for wrongful conduct, and a mandate data collection, including body cameras and dashboard cameras.
“We must restore the trust between communities and our police force, and we can’t do that without corrective action to end unlawful and unacceptable behavior,” said Second District Congresswoman Elaine Luria, who voted for passage of the bill.
“This bill takes a comprehensive and commonsense approach to improving public safety that ultimately makes our police force stronger without cutting funding,” Luria said. “Last year, flashpoints of pain in the commonwealth of Virginia and across the nation laid bare to us all just how far we have to go in addressing the deeply-rooted ills of racial bias and police-sanctioned violence in our society. Too many lives have been taken and communities devastated by police brutality and racial profiling.
“Action is long overdue. We can and must re-imagine public safety in America to make our policing systems safer for citizens and hold police officers accountable to the communities they serve, beginning with today’s passage of the Justice in Policing Act,” Luria said.
“The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act is a step towards justice and accountability. We cannot bring George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Eric Garner or Tamir Rice back, but we owe it to them and the many others who should not have died to try to stop it from happening again,” Eighth District Congressman Don Beyer said. “All lives will not matter until Black lives matter. I thank the Congressional Black Caucus for their leadership drafting strong, ambitious legislation that our country needs.”
The bill included legislation Beyer drafted with D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to require uniformed federal officers to wear body cameras and use mounted dashboard cameras in marked vehicles.
That legislation was inspired by the still-unexplained killing of 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar by U.S. Park Police in Beyer’s legislation.
“Throughout our history, countless Black brothers, sisters, spouses, parents, and friends have been killed at the hands of a senseless status quo. The murder of George Floyd last year captured — on video for the entire world to see — this pattern of injustices perpetrated against members of our Black communities. In response, the House took a major step in renewing the fight to achieve the promise of equal justice under the law for every American,” Seventh District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger said.
“The reintroduction of this legislation provides another opportunity for Congress to help rebuild policing in a way that reduces discrimination, confronts a history marked by systemic racism, and engages with local law enforcement officials in a productive and meaningful way. Additionally, this bill would address the unacceptable trend of militarization that we’ve seen in local police departments across our country — and it would protect and increase funding for initiatives that strengthen community policing efforts in Central Virginia and across the country. Going forward, we need to keep pressing for legislation that can fix our system, save the lives of unarmed Black men and women, and fight the structural inequities rooted deep within our society,” Spanberger said.