WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ House and Senate Democrats unveiled their plans for police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Floyd died in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes, despite the fact he was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Four officers, including the one who kneeled on Floyd’s neck, have been charged in his death.
House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said transforming the pain caused by Floyd’s death begins with transparency and accountability in policing.
“We’ve heard our people cry out – ‘I can’t breathe,'” he said. “We see you, we hear you, we are acting.”
On Monday morning, Democrats gathered in Emancipation Hall and kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in Floyd’s memory.
Then, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the lawmakers outlined provisions of what they are calling the “Justice in Policing Act.”
The new legislation would ban police chokeholds – including the kind used by police officers in Floyd’s death – end racial profiling and make lynching a federal hate crime.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said he wants to see the Senate take up the bill by July.
“Democrats are going to fight like hell to make this a reality,” Schumer said.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York, said the bill also addresses systematic racism in police forces nationwide.
“We can’t be blind to the structural racism and injustice that pervades far too many of our law enforcement agencies,” he said.
But the Trump Administration maintains that policing problems aren’t the issue.
“I do not think that we have a systemic racism problem with law enforcement officers across this country,” Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said. “Do I acknowledge that there are some law enforcement officers that abuse their job? Yes.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump agrees.
“Hedefinitely believes there are instances of racism, but he believes our law enforcement are the best in the world,” McEnany said.
The bill could be up for a vote in the House later this month.