George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Passes in House

March 4, 2021 by Reece Nations
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerold Nadler. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act on Wednesday by a margin of 220 in favor and 212 opposed. 

The bill was named after the Minneapolis man killed during an arrest in May 2020 that sparked protests nationwide. The George Floyd Act aims to reform police conduct by banning carotid and chokeholds, prohibiting religious and racial profiling, and creating a national standard of operation for police departments among other provisions. 

Further, the bill mandates data collection from “police encounters,” repurposes existing funds for community-based policing programs, streamlines federal law for prosecuting excessive force and would establish a national registry for police misconduct. Other provisions of the bill mandate dashboard and body cameras and establish public safety innovation grants for organizations to create local commissions and task forces within their own communities. 

“Last summer, millions of Americans across the country took to the streets to demand meaningful accountability for officers who commit misconduct,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a written statement. “Within weeks the House passed legislation to do just that, but the pleas for justice that rang out in the streets fell on deaf ears in the Senate. Today, the House has taken decisive action once again by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, bold legislation that reimagines how public safety could work in a truly equitable and just way in each community.” 

If enacted, the bill would also establish training programs for law enforcement on discriminatory profiling and requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations. In addition, the bill reforms qualified immunity — meaning individuals can seek damages through litigation if they feel their constitutional rights have been violated. 

A Department of Justice task force would also be instituted to systematize the “investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments” in instances of law enforcement misconduct, according to a House Judiciary release. 

The act has been endorsed by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Urban League and the National Action Network. The bill now faces an uphill battle for passage in a sharply divided Senate. 

“Thirty years ago today, Rodney King was viciously beaten by police officers in Los Angeles,” Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said in a written statement. “It would be the first time the world would witness what African Americans had been organizing, marching and trying to change for more than 100 years. Personally, I was hopeful that once everyone saw what happens in Black communities, policing in America would change. I was certain no one would deny what they saw with their own eyes and the officers involved would be held accountable for their actions. I was wrong.” 

Her statement continued, “Now, thirty years later, the United States House of Representatives has voted to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is just the first step to transform policing in America by raising the standards for policing in America, and holding officers who fail to uphold the ethic of protecting and serving their communities, accountable. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and across the aisle to ensure that substantive police reform arrives at the president’s desk.” 

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