Today, the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, by a bipartisan vote of 236 to 181. The legislation is the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, 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. Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA), Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 on June 8, 2020. The legislation has 231 cosponsors in the House and 36 cosponsors in the Senate.
Under the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for the first time ever federal law would: 1) ban 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.
“This is the first step in bringing real change to policing in this country,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar who represents the district where Floyd was murdered. “My community has been crying out for justice and real reform for decades. Tragically, police brutality against Black Minnesotans is not a new phenomenon. Members of our community have long lived in terror from law enforcement sworn to protect them. This legislation is an important step in the right direction, but we can’t stop here. We must heed the calls of the people who are impacted by police brutality daily and restructure broken police departments across our country. Let us not ignore the voices of those taking to the streets to demand justice. Let us reimagine a public safety system that prioritizes the health and well-being of all Americans.”
"The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act will reimagine policing for the 21st Century and will hold officers who commit misconduct accountable for their actions,” said Nadler. “I thank Chair Karen Bass for all of her work in assembling the historic legislation. The House has done its job today but that is not the end of the story. The Senate must take up this legislation and send it to the President’s desk without delay. This is not the time for half measures. This is not the time for further study. This is not the time for fake reform. If our Republican colleagues truly want to pass bold comprehensive legislation that will change the culture of policing and hold officers accountable, we welcome them to the table. But we will not accept anything less."
Bass praised today’s passage as well. She said: “Today’s bipartisan passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the House is not just a victory for the Congressional Black Caucus and its founding members who first championed legislation to address the issue of police brutality. This is a victory for our entire country. For far too long, Black Americans have endured systemic racism and discrimination—especially from police. Congress may have written this bill, but the people own it. Now that this historic bill has passed the House, we call upon our colleagues in the Senate to commit to a good faith negotiation on the provisions put forward by the House in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:
- Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
- Bans chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
- Mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal offices and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
- Establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave on agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
- Amends federal criminal statute from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard to successfully identify and prosecute police misconduct.
- Reforms qualified immunity so that individuals are not barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights.
- Establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just and equitable public safety approaches.
- Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices and requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
- Requires state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
- Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
- Establishes a Department of Justice task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
Endorsements for the bill include Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice; and John Crawford, Jr., father of John Crawford III as well as 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. The bill was also endorsed by leading corporations, law enforcement, major city mayors such as the Mayor of Houston and the Mayor of Los Angeles and celebrities such as Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Lizzo, Meek Mill, Elton John, Kelly Rowland, Justin Bieber, Miguel, Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, Jonas Brothers, Alyssa Milano and Ariana Grande, among others. The full list of supporters can be found here.
Full text of the legislation is available here.
A fact sheet on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is available here.
A comparison of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act v. Senate Republican Bill v. Trumps Executive Order is available here.