The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 passed in the House on March 3. Shown in this photo is Terrence Floyd, brother of George Floyd wearing a face mask and shirt “Justice For George.” (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
When George Floyd was murdered at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, the Rev. Al Sharpton made it his mission that the 46-year-old father would not die in vain. Sharpton, with the help of celebrities like Tyler Perry, ensured that Floyd was memorialized in a special and honorable way and soon after the Civil Rights leader began campaigning for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. On March 3, the United States Congress passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Bill 2021.
“The passage of H.R. 1280, The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, is a monumental step towards reforming a broken system that allowed a law enforcement officer to conduct a modern-day lynching of Mr. Floyd with his knee. This legislation is as important as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was in the era of the civil rights movement of the ’50s and 60s,” said Sharpton who is founder and president of the National Action Network.
The legislation in Floyd’s name was first introduced in the House in June 2020 by Rep. Karen Bass (D-California).
In August Sharpton told the AFRO the legislation was important because it, “would make it a federal offense to chokehold or put your body as an officer or a law enforcement officer to choke someone to death, which happened to Eric Garner in New York with the police chokehold. It happened to George Floyd with blocking the oxygen and killing him by compressing the knee on the neck. So it’s a federal offense in that law.”
With the passing of H.R. 1280, Sharpton and Congressional leaders have hope, but also called on U.S. citizens to take action.
“We are at an inflection point in our history. We must act,” Bass wrote with a retweet of the House announcement that the Bill passed.
“We must face this moment and deal with police accountability instead of turning a blind eye,” Sharpton said in a statement submitted to the AFRO. “We must change the unjust criminal justice system and patterns and practices of police abuse that we have endured for far too long, including the use of chokeholds, racial profiling of Black and Brown lives and the wrongful conduct that permeated the system for generations.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 still needs to pass in the Senate. Sharpton emphasized the need for the legislation to fully pass in order to stop police brutality as he reflected on the upcoming trial for Floyd’s murderer.
“Until we get federal legislation, every state will continue to do what it wants to do, and we must remain vigilant about eradicating police abuse. As jury selection begins for Derek Chauvin, the officer that took George’s life, we will continue to galvanize fair-minded justice seekers and fight to turn demonstration into legislation,” Sharpton said.