US House of Reps passes historic police reform bill to curb racism, brutality

US House of Reps passes historic police reform bill to curb racism, brutality

The United States House of Representatives has passed what the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi called a "historic" police reform bill. 

The Democratic-controlled chamber voted 236-181 for the measure mainly along party lines on Thursday June 24, 2020. 

The bill, which aims to curb police brutality and bring accountability to police departments, was named after George Floyd, the unarmed black man whose death in police custody last month ignited worldwide protests.

“Exactly one month ago, George Floyd spoke his final words — ‘I can’t breathe’ — and changed the course of history,” House Speaker Pelosi said. 

The brutal murder of George Floyd has plunged the United States into national agony, forcing Americans to make demands for urgent police reform. 

The Thursday's bill passage was commended by three Republicans- Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Will Hurd of Texas and Fred Upton of Michigan who joined Democrats in supporting the bill.

“The George Floyd Justice and Policing Act will fundamentally transform the culture of policing to address systemic racism, curb police brutality and bring accountability to our police departments,” Pelosi said. “It will save lives.”

“We are supposed to be the beacon of hope for human rights in other countries, and the Justice and Policing Act is a bill for human rights in our country,” she stated. 

“This is the first step in bringing real change to policing in this country,” said Omar, who represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, which covers the city of Minneapolis, where Floyd died on May 25. 

“My community has been crying out for justice and real reform for decades.

"This legislation is an important step in the right direction, but we can’t stop here," she said.

"We must heed the calls of the people who are impacted by police brutality daily and restructure broken police departments across our country," she added. 

Democrats introduced the legislation this month amid the national outcry over Floyd’s death. 

The legislation would also require police departments to send data on the use of force to the federal government and create a grant program that would allow state attorneys general to create an independent process to investigate misconduct or excessive use of force. 

The bill would also make it easier for people to recover damages when police departments violate their civil rights and, for the first time, make lynching a federal hate crime.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, however, criticized the Senate bill, saying it “does nothing real.”

“This is not the time for half measures. It's not the time for further study. It's not the time for sham, fake reform,” he said. 

“We must insist, the country insists, on real change, that Black lives matter, and that the Senate, the Republicans in the Senate, cannot be allowed and will not be allowed to thwart the will of the country," he added.