Tags: George Floyd Protests | Law Enforcement | police | reform | senate | chuck schumer | defund the police

Schumer: Dems to 'Fight Like Hell' for Police Reform Bill

chuck schumer points for another reporter to ask a question
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

By    |   Monday, 08 June 2020 06:11 PM

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday said Democrats will "fight like hell" to ensure sweeping legislation to combat police violence and racial injustice is passed by the Republican-led Senate.

The Democratic-led House on Monday introduced the bill, two weeks after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody led to widespread protests.

The 134-page bill would take numerous steps, including allowing victims of misconduct to sue police for damages, ban chokeholds, and require the use of body cameras by federal law enforcement officers, restrict the use of lethal force, and facilitate independent investigations of police departments that show patterns of misconduct.

"Empathy and sympathy and words of caring for those who have died and suffered are necessary, but it's not enough," said Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., one of the bill's key authors. "We must change laws and systems of accountability. We must pass legislation that makes our common values and our common ideals real in the law of our land."

"We cannot settle for anything less than transformative, structural change," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., added.

"A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly trained officers who are accountable to the public," Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, told a news conference.

The legislation does not call for the funding of police departments to be cut or abolished, as some protesters and activists have increasingly sought. But lawmakers called for spending priorities to change.

"We have confused having safe communities with hiring more cops on the street . . . when in fact the real way to achieve safe and healthy communities is to invest in these communities," said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., seen as a potential running mate to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election.

Democrats vowed to bring the legislation to the House of Representatives floor in coming weeks. Its reception in the Republican-controlled Senate is unclear, but Democrats hope the protest movement and its public support will help move the bill.

Axios quoted an aide in Senate Republican leadership as saying, any legislation with bipartisan support would be considered, but police issues might be better left to the state and local levels.

"It's unclear whether Republicans are willing to go as far as Democrats in terms of overhauling the nation's police system, thanks to potential backlash from both police unions and President Trump," the aide said.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted support for police and said, "Democrats want to defund you, but Republicans will never turn our backs on you."

Floyd's death in Minneapolis, where a police officer knelt on his neck, was the latest in a string of deaths of black men and women at the hands of police that have sparked fresh calls for reforms.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Democrats will "fight like hell" to ensure sweeping legislation to combat police violence and racial injustice is passed by the Republican-led Senate, according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday.
police, reform, senate, chuck schumer, defund the police
Monday, 08 June 2020 06:11 PM
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