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"A major step forward": Minnesota lawmakers pass police reform package

New video shows Floyd pleading with cops
New video shows Floyd pleading with cops 02:01

Lawmakers in Minnesota passed a sweeping police reform package overnight that includes a ban on neck restraints like the one that was used on George Floyd before his death in Minneapolis. The bill contains 15 provisions which, among other things, ban chokeholds and "warrior-style" police training in the state and requires officers to intervene if they witness misconduct by other officers. 

America Protests Washington
Demonstrators protest Saturday, June 6, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Floyd was handcuffed and begging for air as he was restrained on the ground May 24 by three White Minneapolis officers, one of whom pressed his knee into the unarmed Black man's neck for nearly eight minutes. Disturbing cell phone video showing Floyd pleading "I can't breathe" during the arrest led to worldwide protests and calls to confront police violence and systemic racism. The four officers involved have been fired and criminally charged.

The legislation, passed during a special session following months of negotiations between parties, passed the Democratic-controlled state House of Representatives just before midnight and the Republican-led state Senate around 2 a.m., reports CBS station WCCO.

Democratic Rep. Rena Moran, chair of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus, which authored the package, called the reforms "urgent" and  "a major step forward toward re-imagining our vision for public safety in Minnesota."

The bills mandate additional training for officers on crisis intervention, autism and cultural bias, incentives for officers to live in the communities they serve and accountability measures in the police arbitration process. They also require data collection on police use-of-force incidents and create a state body to investigate the cases.

The Minneapolis Police Department has already implemented some of the reform measures, including a ban on chokeholds and neck restraints and a "duty to intervene" policy, ahead of a broader state civil rights investigation triggered by Floyd's death. The city had banned "warrior-style" training, which teaches officers to view every encounter as potentially dangerous, prior to Floyd's death.

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Democratic Sen. Jeff Hayden, the assistant Minnesota Senate minority leader, speaks before state lawmakers pass sweeping police reforms July 21. WCCO

"No matter where we were born, what we look like, or where we live, every Minnesotan wants to make it home at the end of the day," said Rep. Ryan Winkler, the House majority leader, in a statement. "Minnesotans expect and deserve action on this issue. Today, we are taking a first step to bring accountability to law enforcement and ensure our communities are safe for all of us."

Senate majority leader Sen. Paul Gazelka said that more reforms will come during the next legislative session, reports WCCO.

"These [provisions] need to be vetted in a hearing in a regular session where we can have a lot more voices," he said. "That was something we all wanted, but we sensed the urgency of doing something now."

Democratic Sen. Jeff Hayden, the assistant Senate minority leader, said the legislation "sets the groundwork" for future reforms, but lacks critical measures to hold bad actors to account, the station reports.

"This conversation cannot and will not end with the passage of this bill, because there's a lot of work that will be required to protect Black lives," Hayden said.

The bills have been passed to Democratic governor Tim Walz, who has supported the reforms.

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