Democrats Coalesce Against GOP To Win Another Big Vote 220-212

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When a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd in a chokehold, two other policemen were holding him down. The murderer knew that he was being videotaped by a brave young woman who had been passing by, and he smirked for nine long minutes. Floyd knew that he was dying, and this big tall basketball player called out for his “Mama.” That reached into the heart of American mothers across the country.

Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act H.R. 1280, by a vote of 220 to 212. The idea behind this bill is change. Law enforcement is slower to change than most professions. But it is time to wed social work to police work. Most police do not like the abuse calls nor the mental health call, so this will give them an opportunity to hand these calls off. A specially trained officer would accompany the social worker, and the worker could be part of a rapid response team and even considered a specially trained member of the police force if so desired.

This bill also starts from ground zero, according to the House Judiciary Committee:

‘It will change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives.’

There would be new legislation to:

  1. ‘[B]an chokeholds
  2. end racial and religious profiling
  3. eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement
  4. establish national standard for the operation of police departments
  5. mandate data collection on police encounters
  6. reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs. and
  7. streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.’

The House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold (Jerry) Nadler said “pleas for justice that rang out…fell on deaf ears:”

‘Last summer, millions of Americans across the country took to the streets to demand meaningful accountability for officers who commit misconduct. 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.

Then, the committee chair demanded “bold legislation:”

‘Today, the House has taken decisive action once again bypassing 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. I want to thank Congresswoman Karen Bass for all her work in crafting this historic, responsible legislation. The Senate must take up this legislation and send it to the President’s desk without delay.’

Representative Karen Bass responded noting that “Thirty years ago today, Rodney King was viciously beaten:”

‘Thirty years ago today, Rodney King was viciously beaten by police officers in Los Angeles. 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.

She added that she looked forward to a bipartisan effort:

‘I was wrong. 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.’

Endorsements for the bill included President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the White House Office of Management and Budget. In addition, these groups were involved: “leading civil rights and social justice groups such as the NAACP, National Action Network, Urban League, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.” Other support came from law enforcement, business organizations, and corporations. The full list of supporters can be found on this House Judiciary Committee link.

The bill has the wide endorsement of among others:

‘[T]he NAACP, National Action Network, Urban League and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights as well as law enforcement, corporations and business groups, and more. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the White House Office of Management and Budget.’

To read the bill in its entirety, go to the House Judiciary Committee site.

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