A bill introduced Thursday by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand would outlaw the use of chokeholds or maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood to the brain by law enforcement.
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat.
"There are good men and women in police departments across the nation, and there are brutal ones. Instances of police violence have undermined the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color throughout America, including in New York City," Jeffries said in a statement. "George Floyd and Eric Garner are just two examples of the deadly effects of the epidemic of police brutality, and it is time to prohibit the use of chokeholds and other brutal restraints that apply pressure to the neck and result in asphyxiation. Their use is an unreasonable measure, an unnecessary measure, an uncivilized measure - and under the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act - it would be an unlawful measure. I thank Senator Gillibrand for introducing this important legislation in the U.S. Senate."
The legislation comes as protests continue in cities across the country and in New York against police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nine minutes.
Lawmakers at both the state and federal level are backing legislation meant to overhaul policing in the United States. State lawmakers next week in Albany are expected to approve a package of measures, including more transparency for police disciplinary records.
The bill is named after Eric Garner, the New York City man who was killed in 2014 after a police officer held him in a chokehold.
“George Floyd and Eric Garner should be alive. These are just two of the countless men and women lost to our severely failed criminal justice system in America,” Gillibrand said. “Institutional and systemic racism have devastated black communities since the founding of this country — we see the pain, we hear the calls for justice and accountability, and Congress must act. While we cannot repair the damage done by these horrific killings, the Eric Garner Excessive Force Prevention Act would take an important step towards ending these tragedies by making chokeholds by law enforcement a federal civil rights violation. I will fight alongside my colleagues to pass this legislation and institute meaningful change that can no longer wait.”