Dems urge action on police bill in honor of George Floyd on 4th death anniversary

Democratic lawmakers made a new push for federal police reform Saturday on the fourth anniversary of George Floyd’s death.

Floyd, a Black man, died May 25, 2020, after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes. His final words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for worldwide protests following the incident.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was reintroduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), earlier this week. The bill, first introduced by lawmaker-turned-mayor Karen Bass (D-Calif.) after Floyd’s death, passed the then-Democrat-led House, but the legislation stalled in the GOP-majority Senate.

If passed, the legislation would lower the criminal intent standards for law enforcement officers accused of misconduct in a federal prosecution. It would also limit qualified immunity as a defense to liability in civil suits.

The bill would also limit the use of force and restrict no-knock warrants, chokeholds and carotid holds.

“Far too many lives have been lost or forever changed due to unacceptable incidents of police brutality throughout our nation,” Jackson Lee said. “We cannot allow another American to be deprived of his or her immunity, dignity and constitutional right without taking action.”

Speaking on the House floor, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) urged her colleagues to support the legislation.

“The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would be a critical step toward creating national standards for policing,” she wrote Saturday on social media platform X. “Through tangible reforms, we can save other Black lives.”

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed a similar sentiment.

“Four years ago, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. His last words, “I can’t breathe,” mobilized millions around the world to call for an end to police brutality,” she wrote. “We must honor his memory by passing Democrats’ George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2024.”

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) said the country is still reminded that work needs to be done on a “system that has failed far too many Black Americans.”

“Congress must continue this work,” she posted. “We should start by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — important accountability and reform legislation.”

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Floyd’s words “sparked a resurgence in our movement to create a more just world, starting with those whose job it is to protect and serve.” He urged Congress to move on the legislation.

Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) said Floyd was a “son, brother, and father who deserved so much better than to be murdered on the streets.”

“The disregard for Black humanity remains, and Black Americans continue to face countless injustices daily,” Frost wrote in a post on X. “George Floyd’s legacy, and the legacies of so many others, reaffirms our commitment to real change, not just in their memory, but for a just future.”

The White House also shared messages honoring Floyd and asking people to “act in his memory.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), the co-sponsor of another police reform bill, said he is thinking of Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, and “everyone else who knew and loved him.”

“We have a responsibility to continue to fight for racial justice and defend Black lives,” he said. “Rest in power, George.”

Bowman joined Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) in introducing the Helping Families Heal Act, which would provide mental health resources to families affected by police violence.

Bush reintroduced the legislation on what would have been the 28th birthday of Michael Brown, a Black teenager who was killed by St. Louis police when he was 18. His death, like Floyd’s, became a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for police reform nationwide.

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