Kinsey, Dawkins to introduce bipartisan legislation outlawing use of chokeholds by law enforcement

PHILADELPHIA, June 11 – In light of the death of George Floyd, another unarmed African American killed by a police officer – in this case, by one who applied unwarranted pressure to the victim’s airway for over eight minutes – Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chairman state Rep. Stephen Kinsey and Philadelphia House Delegation Chairman state Rep. Jason Dawkins are introducing legislation to ban the use of chokeholds or any maneuver that could lead to asphyxia.

“The killing of George Floyd has added another name to the long list of African-Americans who have been tragically and unnecessarily killed at the hands of law enforcement,” said Kinsey, D-Phila. “The rallies in the streets show that our community, and communities around the state and nation, have had enough. We cannot allow law enforcement to continue using tactics that disrupt a person’s ability to breathe. They cannot act as judge, jury and executioner.”

“We are living in a moment where change is not only necessary but warranted, and we will not allow this moment to pass us by,” said Dawkins, D-Phila. “Chokeholds and knees to the neck can no longer be a go-to tactic used by police officers. Each time they use those tactics, they reopen a painful wound to our community and place another person’s life within mere minutes of death.”

Currently, there are 41 bipartisan co-sponsors to the legislation, which is a companion to legislation introduced in the Senate by state Sen. Sharif Street, D-Phila. It’s part of a police reform package spearheaded by state and local elected officials, as well as the Philadelphia Public Defenders Office and local attorneys, to increase transparency and accountability and improve the way that law enforcement interacts with the communities they serve.

This legislation is part of a global movement to ban chokeholds and blocking people’s airways during an arrest. France, California, Washington, New York, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Houston, Denver and Phoenix all recently have banned or severely restricted the use of chokeholds. In Pennsylvania, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department has announced that they already are banning chokeholds.