Vice President Kamala Harris urged the senate on Tuesday to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a bill that intends to prevent problematic officers from moving from one department to another while also ending police practices that have been under scrutiny.
Harris said the legislation would “hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities.” She added that the bill should not be viewed as “a panacea to every problem, but as a start.”
“This work is long overdue. America has a long history of systemic racism,” the vice president said, according to The Week. “Black Americans and Black men in particular have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human. Black men are fathers, and brothers, and sons, and uncles, and grandfathers, and friends, and neighbors. Their lives must be valued.”
“We need Congress to act,” Biden said. “George Floyd died almost a year ago. There’s meaningful police reform legislation in his name.”
The president talked to Floyd’s family on Tuesday after a Minneapolis jury announced the verdict against former officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
“I’m feeling better now,” Biden said to Floyd’s loved ones. “There’s nothing that’s going to make it all better. But at least now there’s some justice. And you know, I think of Gianna’s comment: ‘My daddy’s going to change the world.’ We’re going to start to change it now.”
Reflecting on the death of Floyd, who struggled to breathe as his head was pinned under Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes last year, the 46th president said it was “a murder in the full light of day” that “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see systemic racism.”
“I am hoping that we will get it over the finish line and this will be positive,” the California representative said.
Bass is working with GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker to sketch out the details of the bill. The proponents said there are still hurdles to pass the act, but they feel optimistic as the legislation heads to the Senate for formal negotiations.
Bass said the goal is to have some language for the bill decided by May 25, the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death. The proposed law would set up a national registry of police misconduct, preventing officers from moving to another jurisdiction to avoid consequences for their actions. The bill also aims to ban racial and religious profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels, as Blavity previously reported.
In addition, the statute looks to ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants while also reexamining qualified immunity, which critics view as a harmful doctrine shielding law enforcement from accountability.