For second time, House to take up police reform legislation named for George Floyd

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Jeanine Santucci and Deborah Barfield Berry, USA TODAY
·3 min read
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WASHINGTON — Lawmakers reintroduced a sweeping police reform bill on Wednesday that was first introduced last year amid nationwide protests over racial inequality following the death of George Floyd.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bans chokeholds and federal no-knock warrants, among other reform measures, previously passed the Democratic-controlled House. But the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans at the time, did not act on it.

The bill aims to bolster police accountability and prevent problem officers from moving from one department to another by creating a national registry to track those with checkered records. It also would end certain police practices that have been under scrutiny after the deaths of Black Americans in the last year.

Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd cried out that he could not breathe on May 25, 2020. His death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Most recently, protests struck up in Rochester, N.Y., on Tuesday after news that a grand jury announced no criminal charges would be brought against the officers whose restraint of Daniel Prude may have caused his death.

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What's in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

California Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat and former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chair, reintroduced the bill. They said inaction since the bill was originally introduced has led to more deaths at the hands of police.

The reintroduced bill would: prohibit profiling based on race and religion and mandate training on profiling; ban chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants; require the use of federal funds to ensure use of body cameras; establish a National Police Misconduct Registry; amend the prosecution standard for police from "willfulness" to "recklessness" and reform qualified immunity; and require stronger data reporting on police use of force.

'System is broken': Black community expresses anger, fatigue after officers cleared in Daniel Prude's death

'Time for the Congress to deliver,' civil rights groups say

Earlier Wednesday, national civil rights leaders called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. No major federal legislation has been passed into law since Floyd’s death sparked national and international protests.

House passage of the measure is not enough, they said.

“We will not accept an incremental approach to justice,’’ said Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a national coalition of civil rights groups.

Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, said election poll results show criminal justice reform was one of the top issues for Black voters in 2020. “It’s time for the Congress to deliver what the people voted for,” she said.

Black voters were pivotal to Democratic wins in key races, including Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, civil rights leaders said there also are insufficient protections in the states, which is why passage of federal legislation is critical.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., noted that several high-profile deaths of Black people by law enforcement officials have not led to major police reforms.

"We demand that the federal government step up," Ifill said.

The issue has been "kicked down the road" for decades, she said.

House Democrats said they are working to pick up more Republican support. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the House would vote on the bill next week.

Contributing: Christal Hayes, Nicholas Wu

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: George Floyd police reform bill: Legislation reintroduced in House