Politics will be politics.
According to CBS News, the House approved a police reform bill on Thursday, shortly after Senate Democrats blocked a more modest proposal from pushing through earlier that same day, citing it did not probe far enough into police brutality.
The “George Floyd Justice in Police Act” was passed with a vote of 236 to 181 and gained the support of Republican Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick, Will Hurd, and Fred Upton.
“This year in Congress, the only way we can ensure that a policing reform bill is signed into law is by coming to the table with all parties, in good faith, to finally end this injustice,” Fitzpatrick, a representative from Pennsylvania, stated.
The next step is for the bill to make it through the Senate, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it will not pass the Republican-held chamber.
The bill follows the recent killing of a GeorgeFloyd, a black man who died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The video footage spread across the world and resulted in protests against police brutality and racial violence.
“Today we have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure that his death and the death of so many others is not in vain,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a Thursday press conference in front of the Capitol, which was the one month mark of Floyd’s murder.
If the bill makes way, it will ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants related to drug cases. The issue of no-knock warrants is the result of the recent death of Breonna Taylor, a young African American woman who was killed by Louisville Metro Police in Kentucky when they went to her home in the early morning on a drug investigation.
The legislation is spearheaded by Karen Bass, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman, who would also like to see the bill reform qualified immunity, making it easier to hold officers accountable in civil courts.
“A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession where you have highly trained officers who are accountable to the public,” Bass said at the press conference. Other provisions in the passed bill include incentivizing state attorney generals to investigate their local law enforcement departments and would provide funding so that states could create procedures to investigate police-involved deaths. This provision would possibly help the case of Elijah McClain, considering the state is still trying to process the independent investigation surrounding his death.
The bill will also create a National Police Misconduct Registry, which will be profoundly beneficial by mandating state and local law enforcement to report data on the use of force that would be categorized by race, gender, disability, religion, and age.
The bill would aim to address the cultural biases that clearly exists among police departments by mandating training centered around racial bias. Legislators hope this would help narrow the broad scope of use of force by evaluating whether it was justified or not. As of now, officers only need to find a “reasonable” cause, but the bill would change that to “necessary” use of force.
Last, the bill would help study conditions that affect African American men and boys through established commissions. However, it’s obvious that the subject is a political topic because the impediment of racial justice and equality is because of white people and the structural racism that exist in our system.
The bill was proposed by Senator Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate. Republicans are upset that Senate Democrats are not budging on debating the bill on the Senate floor. Democrats counter by saying the proposal should have been discussed in committee before being brought to a vote by the full Senate.
When the Democrats in the Senate blocked the GOP bill, it was because they wanted a more moderate proposal by Scott, who then offered the Democrats the chance to vote on a max of twenty amendments, but was declined.
“The actual problem is not what is being offered, it is who is offering it,” Scott said. Amendments would require 60 votes to be added to the bill, and unfortunately, it would have been unlikely that Democrats would have gained support by the Republicans for their amendments.
CBS News pointed out two similarities among the Republican and Democratic bill, which was the use of body cameras by federal officers and agreeing that lynching would be considered a hate crime.
It’s 2020, and sadly lynching is just now in the process of becoming a hate crime.