MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In response to the death of George Floyd, Rep. Ilhan Omar announced four bills designed to address police accountability, governmental response, and economic relief for impacted communities.
The first bill, the National Police Misuse of Force Investigation Board Act, will establish a new federal agency to investigate deaths related to police presence. The agency would conduct independent investigations related to deaths occurring in police custody, officer-involved shootings, and use of force that result in severe bodily injury.
Once they are finished investigating, the agency will provide insight into reform that will prevent further incidents.
“The systematic targeting and use of deadly and brutal force against Black people stems from the long legacy of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow laws in the U.S.,” said Omar in her statement. George Floyd, whose death and subsequent public outcry inspired these bills, was an unarmed black man who died as white police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck.
The second bill, called the Bill to Criminalize Police Violence Against Protesters, will allow an officer who kills or causes bodily harm to a civilian while responding to a protest to be charged with a federal crime.
During the George Floyd protests over the last week, police have fired rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas into crowds of peaceful protesters. One Minneapolis man was maimed by a “non-lethal” round; likely a 40-millimeter plastic projectile, which hit his left eye. He was struck while he was peacefully protesting on the 35W bridge on Sunday. Now, his eye might have to be removed.
Journalists have also been targets of police response to protests. In Louisville, a reporter was hit with rubber bullets while she was live on TV. WCCO journalists have also been hit with rubber bullets and tear gas.
The third bill Omar introduced is the Amending the Insurrection Act, which will curtail President Donald Trump’s ability to deploy the military domestically without congressional consent.
On Monday, Trump delivered a speech from the Rose Garden, in which he threatened to use military force to quell protests.
He said “if a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the rights and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
Trump has since taken credit for the “overwhelming force” and “domination” of the Minnesota National Guard soldiers, who helped arrest nearly 500 protesters on Saturday and Sunday.
The fourth and final bill Omar announced is the Federal Relief Fund, which will create an emergency relief fund to serve communities trying to rebuild after social and civil rights cases. Cities and businesses would be able to apply for grants to get them back on their feet.
“Minneapolis’ economy has been ravaged. Families are struggling to find places to buy food,” she said. “The situation facing our city stems from a long history of discrimination, prejudice and violence in the community.”
Since the beginning of the George Floyd protests, communities have been organizing food and supply donations for neighbors, who have limited access to grocery stores as a result of the fires in the first couple days of protests.
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