LOS ANGELES - "We have to be able to hold officers accountable."
One day after the House of Representatives voted 220-212 to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the bill’s lead author, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) spoke with FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson about its contents and its prospects in the Senate.
"One of the things that has frustrated people for years, is that we keep seeing the same thing over and over again, people being killed, unarmed, at the hands of police," Bass said.
Among other reforms, the Act would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in federal drug cases, prohibit racial profiling, and strengthen data collection by and oversight of state and local law enforcement departments by the Department of Justice.
Beyond those reforms, Bass highlighted how the bill will decrease the threshold for prosecuting police misconduct.
"There’s two provisions in the bill, qualified immunity, that allows for officers and departments to be sued, and then lowering the standard from which you can prosecute an officer from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless,’" Bass said. "‘Willful’ means that you have to prove that the officer intended to put his knee on George Floyd’s neck and kill him, versus what he did was completely ‘reckless’ and he should have known that it would result in death."
While a similar bill, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 stalled in the Senate last summer, Bass said that negotiations will begin next week between members of the House and Senate, led by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), and that she is confident they can find areas of compromise.
"There is a tremendous amount of good will on both sides," she said, "and I believe that we’re going to be successful, I do."
The passage of the House bill comes nearly ten months after the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and just days before the trial former officer Derek Chauvin is set to begin.
Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Bass, referring to a lack of convictions 30 years ago in the police beating of Rodney King, said that she is hoping that this case ends in a conviction.
"How could there possibly not be a conviction, when we all witnessed the execution of George Floyd over eight-and-a-half minutes?" Bass said. "So that’s what I’m hoping, I’m hoping for a conviction, I’m hoping for the maximum amount of charges."
In a wide-ranging discussion on The Issue Is, Bass also discussed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package currently making its way through Congress, California’s rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, and the shows and books she has consumed throughout the pandemic.
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