United States: House adopts police reform bill

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WASHINGTON | Five days before the trial of a former white police officer accused of the murder of George Floyd, the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening adopted a project of profound reform of the police force, which is not guaranteed to pass the course of Senate.

Named after this black man who died on May 25 in Minneapolis during his arrest, the text had already been adopted in June by the lower house of Congress, with a Democratic majority.

He had remained blocked in the Senate, in the hands of the Republicans until January.

House Democrats reintroduced it last week, and this time it passed by 220 to 212. Only one Republican supported it, and two Democrats voted no.

His passage in the Senate, where Republicans retain blocking power, remains uncertain, except perhaps in a watered-down version.

The text “will not erase centuries of systemic racism” in the United States, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said ahead of its passage. But it will be “a huge step” towards “building a better, healthier relationship between the police and the communities they respect.”

The bill provides, among other things, to prohibit strangulation, to limit the transfer of military equipment to the police, to create a national register of police officers dismissed for abuse.

The text also attacks the broad immunity enjoyed by the police in the event of civil proceedings.

It also provides for the end, for drug-related offenses, of search warrants allowing officers to enter suspects without knocking. It was in this context that Breonna Taylor, a young black nurse, was shot dead last March in her apartment.

His name, among others, resonated across the United States during the major anti-racist protests that followed the death of George Floyd.

The black forty-something died of suffocation by a white policeman, Derek Chauvin, who kept one knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His trial, which will also be that of police methods, opens Monday in Minneapolis.