Politicians take on police departments as Floyd protests intensify
Politicians across the country are hearing the cries of protesters and making range of statements and actions, from a push to defund police departments entirely to more targeted actions to reform.
Protests and riots against police brutality have happened around the country for over a week following the death of George Floyd, with protesters accusing politicians of ignoring “systemic racism” up until this point.
Here are some of the police reforms politicians have suggested across the country:
House to tackle police brutality, racial profiling
The House Judiciary Committee will host a June 10 hearing to tackle racial profiling, police brutality and the fractured relationship between police departments and the communities they serve, marking the first step for the House to pass police reform legislation.
The committee hearing comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that Democrats will put forth “comprehensive” legislation in the coming days to address these issues.
“Many of these bills have been in the hopper. And now with all the public exposure of it, we have a better chance of getting them turned into law,” Pelosi said Thursday in a call with reporters.
She said this moment in history is unlike any other to enact police reform.
“This is something completely different,” Pelosi said. “We have reached … an inflection point. This was like a tinderbox. It has changed everything.”
Joe Biden announces police oversight platform
Joe Biden vowed this week that if elected president to create a national police oversight commission during his first 100 days in the Oval Office. He said that the federal government needs to give the cities and states tools and resources to implement police reforms.
“We all need to take a hard look at the culture that allows for the senseless tragedies that keep [happening]. And we need to learn from the cities and precincts that are getting it right,” he added.
Pointing to a bill by Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York that would outlaw chokeholds, Biden said that “Congress should put it on the president’s desk in the next few days. There are other measures to stop transferring weapons of war to police forces, to improve oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard, that also should be made law this month.”
This has led to tensions between groups that long tried to ally with Biden.
The executive director of a national group that represents more than 200,000 police officers, Bill Johnson, took aim at Biden, saying the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has kept “moving left” and has gone “off the deep end” with his calls for law enforcement reforms.
“For Joe Biden, police are shaking their heads because he used to be a stand-up guy who backed law enforcement,” he added, according to Politico. “But it seems in his old age, for whatever reason, he’s writing a sad final chapter when it comes to supporting law enforcement.”
Los Angeles to slash LAPD budget
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday he tasked the city to “identify $250 million in cuts” and instead invest that money in communities of color and “people who have been left behind.”
The city will try and cut between $100 million to $150 million from its police budget alone, according to LA Times reporting. Garcetti said it is incumbent on the city to “step up and say, ‘What can we sacrifice?’”
Garcetti said that he will offer more specifics at a later press conference but said the money will be distributed “now, not years from now.”
“It’s time to move our rhetoric towards action to end racism in our city,” he said, according to Deadline. “Prejudice can never be part of police work. … It takes bravery to save lives, too.”
NY governor announces police reform legislation
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state is looking to pass police reform legislation as soon as next week. The governor unveiled the “Say Their Name” legislation, which consists of four parts: addressing law which shields past disciplinary records of police known as 50-A, outlawing chokeholds, making false race-based 911 calls subject to hate crime prosecution and appointing the state attorney general as an independent investigator into allegations of police abuse.
Lawmakers swear off law enforcement donations
California Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener tweeted Thursday that he would not accept any contributions to his reelection campaign from law enforcement unions and would donate those he’s gotten so far to nonprofits “serving at-risk youth of color.”
Wiener told Fox News that he is donating $20,000 received from six separate law enforcement union organizations.
“I’m donating all contributions to my reelection campaign from law enforcement unions to SF & Daly City nonprofits serving at-risk youth of color. Our policing/criminal justice system is broken & needs drastic change. I want to be very clear about where I stand in this fight,” Wiener tweeted Thursday.
He added: “I also won’t accept contributions from law enforcement unions going forward. I’m donating the funds to 3 community-based organizations that do amazing work to support/empower at-risk youth: Boys & Girls Club of SF, Larkin Street Youth Services, Daly City Youth Health Center.
Wiener’s opponent, Jackie Fielder, in recent days has prodded Wiener over his past acceptance of donations from police unions, and as early as December she was decrying police unions’ influence on elections.
She challenged Weiner earlier this week to give the donations he’s received from police union organizations to “bail funds and mutual aid orgs.”
Wiener would follow the lead of New York state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, who also said he would eschew police union money.
Challenger to Rep. Carolyn Maloney sends “F&$# THE POLICE.” fundraising email
The primary challenger to longtime Democratic New York City Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney sent out a fundraising email Thursday that declared, “F&$# THE POLICE.”
“We are living the results of a completely broken criminal justice system,” the email from the Lauren Ashcraft campaign begins.
“The entire criminal justice system is racist,” she said in a statement to Fox News, “This is about the country needing rigorous criminal justice reform.”
She slammed lawmakers in both parties for their approach to the issue over the years.
“We constantly see videos of black people being attacked and killed,” she said. “Police are murdering those they are sworn to protect. Republicans and Democrats alike — including Rep. Maloney — have failed to enact common-sense reform. Instead, they’re responsible for destructive policies such as the 1994 Crime Bill.”
Minneapolis City Council members aim to ‘dismantle’ police department
Several members of the Minneapolis City Council this week have expressed support for radical changes to how the city handles law enforcement, including a move to “dismantle” the police department and replace it with “a transformative new model for public safety.”
Jeremiah Ellison, the son of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and a representative of the city’s Ward 5, explicitly led calls to “dramatically rethink” how the city keeps its people safe.
“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” he tweeted. “And when we’re done, we’re not simply gonna glue it back together. We are going to dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response. It’s really past due.”
His call was echoed by Lisa Bender, the president of the city council.
“Yes,” she said in response to Ellison. “We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.”
California AG to reform Vallejo Police Department
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday announced a policing plan to reform Vallejo police practices, following the death of Sean Monterrosa, 22, who officers days ago thought had a gun which later turned out to be a hammer.
“The review will aim to support effective policing through improvements in use-of-force procedures, anti-bias and community policing, and accountability by focusing on training, policy, and transparency in alignment with national standards, best practices, current and emerging research and community expectations,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.