Democrats introduce police reform bill after Floyd protests

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This article was originally published on June 8, 2020

The best Democrats in Congress have proposed legislation to reform police practices, but have not heeded activists’ calls to “fund the police,” while US politicians are left wondering how to respond to the murder of George Floyd.

Two weeks after Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, the Democrats proposed a bill drafted by members of the Congressional Black Caucus that would impose new limits to police tactics and would facilitate sanctions. offenses committed by agents.

Legislation was introduced Monday after nine members of Minneapolis city council said this weekend that they would vote to dismantle and fund the city’s police force, giving them enough votes to resist Jacob Frey’s veto , the Democratic mayor of the city who opposes the plan. Council members said they would work with city residents “to identify what security looks like for everyone” in “a future without the police.”

“Defund the police” became a rallying cry for protesters after Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. However, the phrase has been associated with a variety of proposals in different parts of the United States – ranging from reallocating police funding to education and other public programs, to reducing the number of officers armed forces or the complete suppression of the police force.

Legislation proposed to Congress on Monday would ban police strangling, create a national registry to track police misconduct, make it easier for prosecutors to seek criminal and civil sanctions for police abuse, and ban certain warrants ” no hit, “which allow law enforcement to forcibly enter properties. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot dead by police in Louisville, Kentucky in March after police broke into her apartment.

Karen Bass, a Democratic representative from California who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, sought to remove Democrats from Capitol Hill from calls for police funding on Monday, saying lawmakers would come up with additional proposals to increase funding for black communities and to low income.

“Part of that cry is the desire for a much higher investment in the communities, looking at why the police are needed, what is going on, what are the root causes of the problems in the communities? ” she said. “Obviously, we are focusing on this bill right now, but we have other laws going in the same direction in the form of jobs and justice, which address many issues in the community.”

The best Republicans, including President Donald Trump, rejected the Democrats’ proposals, accusing the party of wanting to “finance” and “abolish” the police.

“If peaceful protesters rightly do not want to be rounded up with a subset of looters and rioters who seek to be destroyed, then the vast majority of police cannot be rounded up with the worst examples of heinous behavior. It is that simple, “said Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate. “But instead, we are already seeing extravagant calls, funding the police, or abolishing the police taking root in the left-wing ruling class. ”

Kevin McCarthy, the longest serving Republican in the House, said on Twitter: “To the police across the country who wear uniforms every day and keep their oath – THANK YOU. The Democrats want to defeat you, but the Republicans will never turn your back on you. ”

Earlier Monday, Mr. Trump tweeted: “LAW AND ORDER, NO REIMBURSEMENT AND ABOLITION OF POLICE. The radical left democrats have gone mad! ”

Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Trump’s re-election campaign, said that “the growing call to dissolve or dismantle the police would only lead to chaos” and accused former vice vice Joe Biden -president who will be Mr. Trump’s democratic opponent in November. , not to resist the most progressive elements of his own party.

Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said the former vice president “doesn’t think the police should be funded” but supported more investment in community policing programs, diversifying police and body-worn cameras.

“There are many police forces across the country looking to effect these kinds of changes, but have not had the resources – and the Trump administration has actually made it more difficult to obtain these resources,” he added.

Trump held a roundtable with white house law enforcement officials Monday afternoon, while Biden was scheduled to meet with the Floyd family in Houston, Texas.

Representative Karen Bass, California Democrat, and House and Senate Democrats raise their hands on the viability of their bill at a press conference © Bloomberg

The Justice in Policing Act of 2020, as it is called, was written by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, two of the three black members of the United States Senate. Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker joined Ms. Bass and more than a dozen other House and Senate legislators at a press conference to introduce the bill on Monday.

Bass said she was confident the proposals would garner bipartisan support given the extent of public outrage at Floyd’s death. Large numbers of Americans have taken to the streets in dozens of American cities in recent days and have sparked similar protests around the world.

“There are thousands of people across the country who walk. There is a flared, multiracial movement that has spread around the world, “she told reporters. “We have to think about how the United States appears to the world when we go out and promote human rights. The world is watching us. This will help us to cross the finish line. “

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House, said, “We want to work with our police services, there are many who take pride in their work, and we want to be able to make sure that the focus is on them.

“But there are a lot of things that we are asking our police to deal with, mental health issues, police in schools and the rest, that we could rebalance some of our funding to resolve some of these problems, more directly, “she added.

Warning signs indicate that local officials in many large American cities are ready to cut police funding. Eric Garcetti, Democratic Mayor of Los Angeles, approved cuts to police spending, while Bill de Blasio, Democratic Mayor of New York, said on Sunday that he would cut the budget by $ 6 billion for the first time. from the police department and would reallocate money to youth and social services.

William Bratton, the former New York and Los Angeles police commissioner, called dismantling the police “stupid”, told the Financial Times on Monday: “If you cut the police, the first thing that will suffer is the training. ”

He also noted that the NYPD was a major employer of minority women – particularly as traffic guards and school security officers – who would also suffer.

“We may not always need the police, but. . . tell that to everyone whose stores have been looted, ”said Bratton, who now works for communications and consultancy Teneo.



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