A group of Congressional Black Caucus members along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have presented a bill that is supposed to prevent future police violence against suspects by limiting some of their capabilities and enabling enhanced oversight of their actions.
Among the measures suggested in the "Justice in Policing Act" are two directly related to the recent killings of African-American suspects at the hands of police. One of them is a ban on chokeholds like the one a police officer used on George Floyd. Another is a ban on warrants allowing forced entry without knocking in drug-related cases, something which led to a shootout with law enforcement and the death of Breonna Taylor at her home in Louisville, Kentucky this past March.
WATCH: Congressional Democrats kneel and hold a moment of silence for George Floyd. pic.twitter.com/aW5L4FzZHD— The Hill (@thehill) June 8, 2020
In addition to this, the bill enables additional means of oversight of police actions, such as making body and dashboard cameras mandatory for officers and their vehicles, as well as obligating police departments to report back to the federal government regarding any use of force in their activities. The bill would further require police officers to undergo a series of training programmes on racial bias, the duty to intervene, and the use of violence only as a last resort.
Despite imposing new obligations on police departments, the Democrats' bill provides no new funding to support them, apparently forcing the police to deal with the matter using resources that are already available. At the same time, the bill ignores protesters’ demands to "defund" the police and does not take the same approach as the one suggested by members of the City Council of Minneapolis, who have suggested disbanding the city’s police department for good and redirecting the funds to "community-based strategies" that are supposed to replace it.
Response to US-Wide Protests
The bill, spearheaded by Pelosi and the Black Caucus, is an apparent response to the demands of American citizens who have been protesting for two weeks in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The latter placed his knees on Floyd's back and neck as he struggled to breathe and pleaded for air for nearly nine minutes before passing out and dying.
Demands for "justice" for Floyd have spread to cities across the US, sparking mass protests and at times riots, forcing some governors to call in the National Guard and impose curfews. The demonstrators have also urged authorities to deal with the perceived rampant levels of racism not only in the police, but in the country in general.