US House passes sweeping policing bill

The Democrat-led US House of Representatives passed a sweeping policing reform legislation largely along party lines, in the wake of a national outcry against police brutality and racism after the killing of a black man by a Minneapolis police officer.

The bill was passed on Thursday in a vote of 236-181, with three Republicans crossing party lines to vote on the Democratic side, reports Xinhua news agency.

It came a day after Senate Democrats blocked a competing Republican version on a key procedural vote and is not expected to be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill would crack down on excessive police force and ban chokeholds, enforce national transparency standards and push accountability for officer misconduct with a national database to track offences, a Politico news report said.

“To the protesters: we hear you, we see you, we are you,” the report quoted House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries as saying in a speech on the floor just before the vote.

Before the vote on the steps of the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “Exactly one month ago George Floyd spoke his final words, ‘I can’t breathe’, and changed the course of history.

“When we pass this bill, the Senate will have a choice: to honour George Floyd’s life or to do nothing.”

Protests against police brutality, some of which have been violent, have taken place in the US and abroad were triggered by the extra-judicial killing of the 36-year-old Floyd, an unarmed African-American man by a policeman in Minneapolis on May 25.