With jury selection underway in the trial of Derek Chauvin, there’s a movement in Washington to reform policing nationwide. It’s coming in the form of a bill that was just passed by the U.S. House -- and it’s named after George Floyd.
After months of protests over the last summer, Americans across the country said that the killing of George Floyd -- a Black Minnesota man -- was a wake up call for the nation. Now, Congress is attempting to answer that call with a new bill designed to honor Floyd.
“Last year, we heard cries from the street from every single state in the United States saying that we needed to do something,” Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence said.
Lawrence says that members of Congress couldn’t ignore what happened to George Floyd and the cultural aftermath.
At the end of May last year, Floyd was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Chauvin after the officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest.
“The George Floyd (Justice in Policing Act) is not a ‘Black bill,’ it’s not just for African Americans,” Lawrence said. “It’s a bill that has been requested throughout this country. What the bill does is it works to end racial and religious profiling; it saves lives by banning choke holds and no-knock warrants.”
Detroit Police Chief James Craig says that his officers already execute “probably 97% of what’s in that bill;” he even says that “in some instances, one may argue we might do it better.”
“When you talk about body worn cameras, we volunteered. We wanted body worn cameras,” Craig said. “We’re one of the first major cities in America to deploy integrated, in-car video with body worn cameras, so we’re trend setters.”
But Craig does have some concerns about the bill.
“I will say, though, there’s one area where I’m very concerned -- I know this is something the Union speaks often about -- is the issue of qualified immunity,” Craig said.
Despite some concerns, Congresswoman Lawrence says the bill is a move in the right direction.
“I believe this is the first step,” she said. “I’m not saying this bill answers all of the questions, but it definitely puts us on the right track.”
In a statement to Local 4, Michigan State Police say they are following the progress of the legislation.
”We are aware of the George Floyd (Justice in) Policing Act and will continue to watch what occurs with this proposed legislation as it moves through the federal legislative process,” the statement reads.