Democrats plan to introduce a police reform bill Monday during a nationwide uproar over police brutality and racism in the justice system.
The legislation, drafted by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, will aim to address excessive use of force, qualified immunity and racial profiling, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday. Qualified immunity makes it harder for victims of violence and their families to sue police.
Protesters across the country have called for reform after a string of police-involved killings of black men and women. The deaths, in particular the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, have led to increased furor over entrenched racism in the United States.
The legislation would mark the first federal effort to overhaul policing spurred by perhaps the biggest nationwide reckoning over racism in decades. Pelosi, a California Democrat, said she hopes the U.S. has reached an "inflection point" on improving the justice system.
It is unclear now what police reform legislation could pass both the Democratic-held House and GOP-controlled Senate.
Asked if she sees systemic racism in policing, Pelosi did not answer directly. She said, "we certainly do see that this is more than one or two people acting. There is a record."
The unrest over police brutality comes as the coronavirus continues to ravage the U.S. — and takes a disproportionate toll on black Americans. Pelosi on Thursday acknowledged the damage the pandemic has caused to black people as she advocated for another congressional bill to boost the country's health response and buoy the economy.
Covid-19 has killed more than 22,000 black Americans, or 24% of deaths where race is known, according to the COVID Racial Data Tracker. Overall, more than 100,000 people have died from the disease nationwide.