This evening, the House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (HR 1280), moving the bill, identical to the one in the 116th Congress, immediately to the floor for a vote out of regular order. In response to the vote, Kristina Roth, Senior Advocate for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA, released the following statement:
“Twice now in less than a year, the House has passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — a starting point to address demands for accountability for the killings of Black people by law enforcement. We are pleased to see the PEACE Act again passed in this legislation, which will create a national use of force standard that limits deadly force to a last resort instead of a first option for federal law enforcement.
“The PEACE Act will also call on every state in the U.S. to enact the same standard or risk conditioned grant dollars from the Department of Justice. At least 1,000 people are killed by law enforcement each year, and with each new name added to the list, and each family forever changed with the loss of their loved one, it is clear that our current laws do not go far enough. Too often in communities of color people lose their lives to law enforcement for posing no threat at all.
“As the Justice in Policing Act moves to the Senate for consideration, we urge legislators to address calls for improvement in the bill, such as ending the 1033 program to help demilitarize state and local law enforcement and ending qualified immunity so that people may seek redress if their rights are violated by the state. As is, the bill will continue to allow for the over-policing of Black and Brown communities and leave them without sufficient redress — or even the ability to adequately collect data on abuses — when their human, civil and constitutional rights are violated.
“The killing of George Floyd propelled people to take to the streets in defense of Black lives, demanding significant changes to policing so that Black and Brown communities may have respect for their safety, dignity and humanity. Without these protests, there would be no Justice in Policing Act. As the Senate takes up the bill, it should listen first before acting.”
Amnesty International USA continues to call for police accountability for the killing of George Floyd. In 2015 Amnesty International USA released a report, Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States, that found that no state in the U.S. nor our federal standards for law enforcement officers’ use of force met international law and standards. Between 2015 and 2020, Washington, California and Missouri enacted limitations on the use of force by law enforcement officers, and since the JPA passed, Vermont and Virginia have enacted limitations to the use of force by law enforcement officers.Over just an 11-day period in the summer of 2020, Amnesty International documented 125 incidents in 40 states and the District of Columbia of police abuses against protestors, who took to the street in defense of Black lives and police violence in their communities.