Those who demanded justice for George Floyd were satisfied with the triple guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial.
But many of those who protested or spoke out in the days and weeks following his murder say his death will continue to be in vain until real and lasting change occurs in America’s policing.
A bill has been drafted in the US Congress that aims to achieve exactly this objective: the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
What does he aim to do?
If it were to become law, the law would put in place a series of measures aimed at reducing the likelihood of police brutality.
Key measures include a ban on strangulation and the ability for police to enter property without knocking or announcing their presence, a framework to prevent racial profiling, and the creation of a national registry on allegations of police misconduct.
It will also require all uniformed officers in federal police forces or forces that receive federal funds to use body-worn cameras and install on-board cameras in patrol vehicles, and will change the rules on the use of fire. strength.
One of the most controversial measures is the removal of a type of protection for all US government employees called “qualified immunity” for state and local police, which protects officers from civil suit.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who helped introduce the bill last summer after the murder of George Floyd, said Tuesday evening that the law “would hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities “.
Where’s the bill?
The bill passed in the House of Representatives, the lower house of the US Congress, in June last year before bogging down in the Senate, the upper house, which was then controlled by Republicans.
Since the November election, it has been reintroduced and passed again in the House, by a smaller majority of 220-212, with a vote mostly on party lines, but it has yet to receive Senate approval. .
What are his supporters saying?
In attacking what Harris says is “a long history of systemic racism,” supporters say the law will target long-awaited injustices embedded in the US law enforcement system.
Cory Booker, the United States Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate and other supporter of the bill, said last year in the background, the bill fixes our federal laws so that law enforcement officers “law and order are held accountable for serious misconduct and police abuses are better and on the front-end, the bill improves police practices and training to prevent these injustices from happening in the first place.”
Several elements of the bill are intended to encourage police misconduct or the unwarranted use of force to be investigated and followed up.
With a number of commentators claiming Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder because video of the event was captured on smartphones, supporters are hopeful that the requirement for police to use body-worn cameras and on-board cameras would increase the likelihood of convictions for misconduct.
Subscribe to the daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
Likewise, if police are prohibited from using stranglers and entering homes with no-strike warrants, supporters say it would reduce the likelihood that police would end up killing people they attempt to kill. ‘Stop.
In addition to George Floyd, supporters of the bill point to the deaths of people like Eric Garner, a black man who died as a result of police strangulation, and Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead by police during a botched drug raid.
Those angered by the harsh police during last year’s protests sparked by the death of George Floyd hope the control of the military materiel transfer bill would help reduce police brutality at the protests.
And, by ending qualified immunity, supporters say more people whose rights are violated by police or correctional officers employed by a state, county or municipality would be compensated – which could have a chilling effect. against misconduct or potentially racist police acts.
What are the critics saying?
Some aspects of the bill won the support of Republicans, who came up with their own much smaller bill, which was rejected by Democrats for not going far enough.
It contained a number of measures, such as the strangulation ban and the promotion of bodycam, but did not provide for the end of qualified immunity, which is at the center of the Republican opposition.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican senator, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that removing the accountability shield would compromise public safety and make recruiting difficult.
Others say the bill does not go far enough because qualified immunity will still apply to federal law enforcement personnel, such as customs and border protection, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI. , and others say the bill comes at a time when policing should be curtailed, rather than boosted.
Some local police services may be exempt because they do not receive federal funding and, therefore, do not fall under what will be federal law.
Will it be adopted?
Although Democrats now have the potential to control the Senate, 10 Republicans must vote for the bill to pass.
After the verdict was delivered on Tuesday night, there were signs that it might be possible for some of those who oppose his progress to be convinced.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans as well as Democrats said they were relieved and predicted this could give impetus to police reform legislation.
Tim Scott said: “I think the verdict only reinforces the fact that our justice system continues to become fairer. This is a monumental day in many ways, in my opinion.”
With the backing of President Joe Biden, the bill will likely be pressured to move forward in the days and weeks to come and will certainly become law if passed in the Senate.