Tags: George Floyd Protests | Law Enforcement | chokeholds | excessive force | police | reform

Move Against Police Chokeholds Gains Steam

a protester holds a photo of derek chauvin killing george floyd
(Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 09 June 2020 07:11 PM

Cities and legislatures around the country, resoundingly rejecting the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers, are working to ban them in a number of cities including Houston, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Portland, Los Angeles, and New York.

New York's state Assembly and the Senate, both controlled by Democrats, passed a ban on police officers using chokeholds to subdue suspects and a bill requiring law enforcement to disclose racial disparities in policing. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to sign it.

D.C.'s emergency legislation, approved by a unanimous vote, bars the use of neck restraints, such as the one used against George Floyd, killed by a Minneapolis police officer, and requires the release of names and images from officers' body cameras after "an officer-involved death or the serious use of force."

The Phoenix, Arizona Police Department tweeted Tuesday, announcing the suspension and training of the carotid control technique:

"We can't function as a department without the trust of our community and there are adjustments we can make to strengthen that trust. We pride ourselves on being an organization willing to learn and evolve, to listen to our community and become better."

Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced plans Tuesday to dissolve the police gun violence reduction unit, ban choke holds and reform the use of consent searches in traffic stops. He said bold action is necessary in the wake of nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd.

Congress is getting involved, too, as House Democrats introduced a sweeping police reform bill Monday, making it easier to prosecute police for misconduct, create a national registry for police violations and ban chokeholds. The bill would require local police departments that get federal funds to conduct bias training and use de-escalation tactics.

Senate Republicans are also weighing proposals to improve police practices in response to massive protests including racial bias training, increased use of body cameras, and finally enacting the first federal anti-lynching law.

A task force that will write the GOP proposal will be led by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the only black member of the Senate's majority party.

"Absolutely I think it's important to have a response," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. 

Except for Scott, "none of us have the experience of being an African American in this country and dealing with discrimination," McConnell said. "We're still wrestling with America's original sin."

Scott maintains the GOP likely would not seek to ban chokeholds but instead might provide resources for training. He also said he would propose more reporting about the use of "no-knock" search warrants, in contrast to the House bill that would bar them for federal law enforcement officials.

"I basically shy away from telling local law enforcement 'you shouldn't do that' and 'you can't do this,'" Scott said. He said the Democrats are trying to "nationalize" things too much.

Another GOP task force member, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, questioned whether Democrats are serious about reaching an agreement, contending their proposal is "more a political statement and grandstanding than it is a serious effort to solve the problem." Still, Cornyn said he supports a ban on chokeholds.

With party leaders in both chambers moving ahead with different plans, and election-year politics coming into play, some warn that no accord may be reached.

"I think there's going to be a Republican proposal and a Democratic proposal," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said, adding that usually means "an impasse or nothing."

Still, there does seem to be some GOP momentum. Senior White House officials – including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner – went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon to meet with Scott about his ideas, said White House spokesman Ben Williamson.

Second-ranking Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Republicans want to take advantage of ways to influence what state and local governments do, including by using reporting requirements and conditions on receiving federal funds.

"I'm hoping we can find some things that we can do that suggest we hear what people are saying," Thune said. "We want to do better at this, realizing that a lot of this is state and local jurisdiction."

House Republicans might unveil their own proposal by Friday in an effort led by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the top GOP member of the Judiciary Committee.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Democrats are open to looking at Jordan's ideas and voting on them in committee next week as part of the consideration of the Justice in Policing Act. He announced the House will return to Washington on June 25 for possible votes on the proposal, rather than June 30, as previously planned.

Information from Bloomberg, The Associated Press, and Reuters was used in this report.

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Resoundingly rejecting the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers cities and legislatures around the country are working to ban them, including in Houston, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Portland, Los Angeles, and New York.
chokeholds, excessive force, police, reform
Tuesday, 09 June 2020 07:11 PM
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