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Rep. Ilhan Omar Leads the Way in Policing Reform

In the past two weeks, Rep. Ilhan Omar’s congressional district has seen both the conviction of the former police officer who murdered George Floyd and the killing of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop with the Brooklyn Center Police Department.

On April 20, 2021, Rep. Omar lamented with community members about politicians who claim that “Black Lives Matter”, without actually enacting policies that would make a difference in the lives of Black people.

“Black Lives Matter is not a hashtag and should never be just a hashtag…

“I am constantly appalled by the fact -- that it is easy for municipalities, for the state, for the federal government to readily come up with resources to police and brutalize people, but when it comes to coming up with resources to provide health care, to provide mental health services, to provide housing, to provide the things that we need for our well-being as community so that we can thrive, they are put on the back burner,” she said.

Rep. Omar continued, “And people oftentimes will say, ‘This is not the time,’ ‘We don’t have the resources,’ ‘We’re not sure how we’re gonna pay for it,’ ‘We can’t get people on the other side of the aisle to agree.’ They are willing to do their press releases, their press conferences, to talk about how Black Lives Matter, to talk about racial justice, to about equality without actually lifting a finger in creating proposals that actually speak to those words.”

In part, she refers to H.R. 1280, otherwise known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, of which Rep. Omar is a cosponsor. H.R. 1280 passed in the House on March 3, with a vote of 220-212, mostly on party lines. It is currently stalled in the Senate due to the filibuster which de facto requires 60 votes to pass a bill into law, instead of a simple majority.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a bold piece of legislation that addresses a slew of problems in the current policing system. Among other things, it allows police to be held accountable for misconduct through the elimination of qualified immunity, enhances transparency and creates a system for nationwide data compilation, and establishes training requirements and restrictions for all officers in law enforcement.

During debate for the bill, Rep. Ilhan Omar presided as speaker pro tempore. You can watch some of her remarks here.

In a joint address to Congress on April 28, President Biden called on the Senate to pass a police reform bill by the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder on May 25.

Additionally, on April 28, Rep. Omar introduced a package of legislation that continues to address police brutality and misuse of force. Her legislation includes a bill that would establish a federal agency to investigate all nationwide deaths and serious injury that occurs in police custody. It also includes an act that criminalizes police violence against protesters, after the nation reckoned against the severe response of law enforcement against peaceful protestors this past summer. Finally, it includes a resolution recognizing police violence in a global context, affirming the reality of state violence in the hands of police, both at home and abroad.

Ayada Leads is extremely proud of Rep. Omar’s accomplishments and the significance of her achievements as the first African diaspora woman in U.S. Congress.

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