Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed new police accountability reforms into law on Thursday, after nearly two months of protest following the police killing of George Floyd.
The Minnesota Police Accountability Act, passed by state legislators earlier this week, bans chokeholds and neck restraints — like the one used on Floyd, a Black man who died on May 25 after white Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck.
The new law also requires that police officers intervene if they see another officer using excessive force.
“George Floyd’s death brought an unprecedented urgency to the conversation around police reform,” Walz said at the signing Thursday. “It brought issues of racial equity and police accountability into sharp focus.”
The Democratic governor noted that the reforms came out of decades of advocacy by communities of color against racist police brutality, adding: “This is only a beginning.”
Activists in Minneapolis took to the streets the day after Floyd’s killing, and their outrage soon spread to demonstrations in other cities nationwide and eventually around the world. It’s now been more than eight weeks since protests began and the demonstrations continue in many areas.
In Louisville, Kentucky, non-stop protests have been calling for charges against the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman whom cops shot in her home in March. (One of the three officers involved was fired, but none has been arrested or charged.) In Portland, Oregon, where there are daily anti-racism protests, President Donald Trump sent in federal law enforcement earlier this month, and they have violently cracked down on demonstrators.
The nationwide protests have also led to some significant changes, including the toppling of statues of racists, several school districts severing ties with police, and notably in Minneapolis, the city council pledging to “begin the process of ending” the city’s police department (though it remains to be seen what exactly that will look like).