February 27, 2021

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US House passes Democratic police reform bill

The US House of Representatives has approved a sweeping Democratic bill on police reform. Lawmakers passed the legislation largely along party lines, and the bill faces opposition when it reaches the Senate.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Thursday passed the police reform bill by 236-181, amid a high-profile debate that follows the killing of African-American George Floyd.

Only three Republicans voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was passed by the Democrat-controlled House after nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality

Last month, a white police officer used his knee to pin Floyd down by the neck, leading to his death.

The new measures, backed by leading civil rights groups in the US, are aimed at reducing police violence, expanding training, and creating more accountability at the national level.

“Exactly one month ago, George Floyd spoke his final words — ‘I can’t breathe’ — and changed the course of history,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, standing on the steps of the US Capitol with the Congressional Black Caucus.

The measure now moves to the Senate for a vote, where the choice is “to honor George Floyd’s life or to do nothing,” she added. 

However, the Senate’s Republican majority has already said they will oppose the sweeping reforms, making it highly unlikely for it to become law.

A narrower Senate Republican proposal, backed by President Donald Trump, has been blocked by Democrats with no new negotiations in sight.

Trump has opposed the House measure claiming that Democrats were looking to end officer immunity and “weaken our police.”

The new measure looks to ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, expanding the use of body cameras for the police. It makes provisions for a database to track officers’ misconduct. Some changes to qualified immunity are also included, which will allow officers to be sued for abuse.

However, it does not move towards “defunding the police,” which was the rallying cry during many of the protests that have swept the US over the past month.

see/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AFP) (DW)