US House Passes Police Reform Bill

  • The legislation took into consideration the demands of protesters across the country.
  • The bill appears dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate.
  • The legislation is backed by the civil rights activists, but opposed by police unions and President Donald Trump.

The House of Representatives has passed far-reaching legislation on police reforms Thursday night, a month after the horrible death of George Floyd. The vote was 281-181 in favor, with the vote mostly along party lines.  Three Republicans crossed over to vote with the Democrats, who control the House.

The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is a civil rights and police reform bill drafted by Democrats in the United States Congress, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The legislation’s stated aims are to combat police misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing.

The legislation is aimed at lifting legal obstacles that protect police officers from lawsuits, banning no-knock raids used by police, and halting the flow of military surplus equipment to police departments. It is named after George Floyd, an African American man who died after a white officer pinned him down in Minneapolis.

The legislation took into consideration the demands of protesters across the country, who have called for police reforms following the deaths of black people at the hands of police officers.

“In America today, a Black American is three times more likely to be killed by police compared to a white person,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), a leading House Democrat. The bill will have a hard time passing through the next stage— the Republican-controlled Senate— unless the Democrats and Republicans set aside their differences.

The legislation is backed by the civil rights activists, but opposed by police unions and President Donald Trump.  The president said that the Democrats are working towards weakening the police force.

“They want to take away a lot of the strength from our police and from law enforcement generally, and we can’t live with it. We can’t live with it,” he said at a news conference. On Wednesday a Republican-backed bill failed to get enough votes as it faced strong opposition from Civil Rights groups and the Democrats. In the bill, $7 billion was to be authorized in new grants for police.

Earlier, during the countrywide protests against the death of Floyd, the Democrats and Trump’s Republicans had clashed on the police reforms, with the latter not agreeing with the calls. The Democrats unveiled a package of police reforms as a response to the killing of African-Americans by law enforcement.

They said that their bill was aimed at ensuring meaningful and structural changes for the benefits and safety of the citizens. The legislation is aimed at holding police accountable, improving transparency in policing, and ending police brutality. Nine of the twelve Minneapolis City Council members attended a rally in a city park, and said that they were in support of disbanding the city’s police department.

“Defund the police” is a slogan which supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-police solutions such as social services and other community resources. “Defund the police” gained widespread popularity during the George Floyd protests.

The death of Floyd has sparked outrage from all quarters, and ignited anger over police killings of black Americans. Widespread anti-racism protests were witnessed in all US states and around the world. The protests were violent in the beginning, but later on turned peaceful.

A number of police officers have used a lot of force during the widespread protests against the murder of Floyd. Some of these officers have been fired, while others have been charged. The demonstrators were calling for justice for Floyd, as well as police reforms where they advocated for disbandment and dismantling of the police force.

Floyd, an African American man died on May 25 after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty six seconds.

In a horrifying video, Chauvin pinned Floyd down with his knee as he lay on the ground during an arrest. The video footage was taken by a witness and was sent on social media. It showed Floyd helpless, asking the police not to kill him. Floyd said several times, “I can’t breathe!”

In the footage witnesses are heard pleading with the police to let go the man but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Floyd was buried earlier this month in Houston, amid calls for racial justice from speakers.

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Juliet Norah

I am a freelance journalist is passionate about news. I derive pleasure in informing people about the happenings in the world

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