More than nine months after the violent death of black American detainee George Floyd, the United States lower house has agreed to comprehensive police reform. The law named after Floyd was passed by a narrow majority of 220 to 212 votes.
It remains to be seen whether the law will ultimately be adopted in its current form; this also requires most of the House of Lords (the Senate).
The reforms include efforts by the federal government to ban the use of strangleholds by the police. The judicial immunity of police officers should also be limited to facilitate prosecution after violent incidents.
In addition, there will be a national database under the umbrella of the Ministry of Justice in which information about the behaviour of police officers will be kept. In this way, it must be made impossible that police officers who have gone wrong in using violence in the past can go to work for another police force.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has the support of President Joe Biden. The White House said on Monday that trust between the police and civilians must be restored. “We cannot restore this confidence if we do not hold police officers accountable for abuse of power and take action against systemic misconduct and racism in the police force,” said Biden.
George Floyd, 46, unarmed, was killed in the city of Minneapolis on May 25 when a cop pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. His colleagues were there but did not intervene. In a video of the incident, filmed by a bystander, Floyd repeatedly shouts that he can no longer breathe.
Floyd’s death sparked mass protests in the United States and abroad against racism and excessive police brutality. The trial of the suspected police officers will start on Monday.