This evening, the House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. In response to the vote, Kristina Roth, Senior Program Officer for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA, gave the following statement:
“With today’s vote, the House has taken a bold first step at policing reform. The Justice in Policing Act includes meaningful changes to our approach to law enforcement and creates accountability for the unlawful killings of Black people. We applaud the creation of a national use of force standard that limits deadly force to be used only when necessary and as a last resort. Lawmakers should have been willing to listen when Eric Garner cried out ‘I can’t breathe’ — the ban on chokeholds in the bill is long overdue.
“While the elimination of qualified immunity for law enforcement is not insignificant, we were disheartened to see that a proposal to end the doctrine outright for all state actors was not included. While the limitations on the transfer of military weapons is a good start, we remain disappointed the adoption of a provision to eliminate the 1033 program altogether was not made.
“Finally, we strongly believe that the functions of this bill do not require new funding. The inclusion of hundreds of millions of new dollars to state and local law enforcement agencies is a slap in the face to the millions of people who have taken to the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, who have been demanding that funds be redirected to community-led solutions.”
Amnesty International USA has been calling for police accountability for the use of deadly force. As protesters have taken to the streets to call for change, AIUSA spoke out against the excessive force used by law enforcement.
In 2015, Amnesty International USA released a report on the use of deadly force by law enforcement and raised serious human rights concerns with regards to the right to life, the right to security of the person, the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to equal protection of the law. This report highlights the need for a nationwide review and reform of existing laws, policies, training and practices on police use of lethal force, as well as a thorough review and reform of oversight and accountability mechanisms. Amnesty International USA has created a guide for law enforcement officials policing demonstrations.