Lawmakers introduce police reform bill as George Floyd memorial held

Washington (dpa) - Democrats in Congress announced a wide-ranging police reform bill on Monday, as mourners gathered for a public viewing of George Floyd's body in his home town of Houston, Texas.
Floyd, a black man, died two weeks ago while being held by a white police officer in Minnesota, sparking protests against police brutality and systemic racism across the country and around the world.

The legislation announced by Democrats in both the House and Senate aims to reduce police violence, expand training and improve oversight and accountability at the national level.
The Justice in Policing Act would ban chokeholds federally, end certain no-knock warrants, expand the use of body cameras, and establish a database for tracking officers' misconduct. There would also be changes to qualified immunity, making it easier to sue officers for abuse.
"The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in our country," said Karen Bass, a Democratic lawmaker. "A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly trained officers that are accountable to the public."
Prior to holding a press conference, the lawmakers kneeled down in the entrance hall of the US Capitol and held a moment of silence that lasted for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time an officer kept his knee on Floyd's neck.
It remains unclear if the bill will have support from Republicans, whose votes will be needed for it to pass in the Senate.
Thousands of people were expected to attend the public viewing of Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church in south-west Houston and participate in a public memorial on Monday and Tuesday ahead of a private funeral on Tuesday.
A live feed of the viewing showed a constant stream of mourners approaching the golden casket holding Floyd's body.
Some donned shirts bearing an image of Floyd's face and the phrase "I can't breathe," which were among his last words.
The former officer who pinned Floyd down, Derek Chauvin, had his bail set at 1.25 million dollars, or 1 million dollars with conditions, according to court records.
He accepted the conditions, which include no contact with Floyd's family, not working in a security or law enforcement capacity, not leaving Minnesota and surrendering fire arms.
Chauvin, who is charged with second-degree murder, appeared in court in Minneapolis for the first time on Monday. His next hearing is scheduled for June 29.
A judge last week set bail for three other former officers involved in the case, accused of aiding and abetting, at 1 million dollars.
The country has been rocked by sustained protests, with the largest demonstrations yet seen over the weekend in major cities around the US. Instances of harsh policing tactics against demonstrators have furthered the call for reforms.
The protests at points had descended into instances of rioting and looting, but over the weekend nearly every demonstration was peaceful.
President Donald Trump is seeking to portray himself as a law-and-order leader, and was set to hold a closed-door meeting with law enforcement at the White House.
Trump's rival in the election this year, Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden, met Floyd's family for more than an hour in Houston, according to family attorney Benjamin Crump.
"He listened, heard their pain, and shared in their woe. That compassion meant the world to this grieving family," Crump tweeted.
In one of the first major plans for reform, the Minneapolis City Council announced over the weekend it will disband the local police department and establish a new public safety system, following Floyd's death.

Monday, June 8th 2020
By Shabtai Gold, Sophie Wingate and Eliyahu Kamisher,

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