Black lawmakers want Biden to push for police reform during State of the Union

  • In Politics
  • 2023-02-02 10:00:19Z

Congressional Black Caucus members will press President Joe Biden Thursday to renew a stalled police reform effort, days after video showed Memphis police officers brutally beating Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, who later died.

The Black Caucus aims to push Biden to speak on reviving police reform legislation during the State of the Union Feb. 7 and share information on results from past executive orders on police reform.

"I'm asking my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to not focus on the dysfunction in Washington, but to remain focused on the people closest to the pain who've been affected by police brutality," said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., chair of the CBC. "And to work with the Congressional Black Caucus and others to get meaningful reform passed this Congress."

Police reform: Tyre Nichols case reignites conversations among lawmakers on federal police legislation

"We can't just continue to, you know, prayers and a moment of silence, those kinds of things," said Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., another member of the Black Caucus. "We need to do more."

What would police reform look like?

"This issue is about rooting out bad policing and bad policing practices," Horsford said. "And that does require legislation, including executive actions and measures that Congress can take up in a bipartisan way."

The group wants Biden to call for bipartisan police reforms next week.

"We are actively engaged in making sure we pull all of the relevant stakeholders together," Adams said. "The president will be key to this."

Horsford also said he's already reached out to Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the lead Republican negotiator on police reform in 2021, and will reach out to other Republicans. But he also wants Biden to push for bipartisan support.

More: Politicians, activists decry Tyre Nichols fatal traffic stop after video's release

"We need him to use that moment during the State of the Union- like he will talk about housing and jobs and investments in protecting Medicare and Social Security-to talk about the importance of keeping our community safe and rooting out bad policing," said Horsford.

Nichols' parents are attending the State of the Union at the invitation of the CBC.

How could some of this reform happen?

If need be, Black lawmakers said they would want to see Biden issue another executive order on police reform.

"We also want him, in terms of the executive power that he has, to make sure that we are publicly collecting data on these kinds of incidents at police departments across the country," said Adams.

In one example, Horsford said data on the rates of Black and brown residents interacting with law enforcement compared to white residents and the use of force against residents should be collected in a nationwide database.

"That's about transparency. That's about accountability. And that's about knowing what is happening, particularly with bad policing practices," he said.

What has Biden done in the past?

In 2022 Biden issued an executive order that established a National Law Enforcement Accountability database, improved the investigation and prosecution of criminal civil rights violations and ordered federal law enforcement to adopt body-worn camera policies.

The Black Caucus, however, wants an update on the effectiveness on the order.

"One of the things we're asking for is a status of where we are in the progress of the implementation of that executive order from 2022," Horsford said. "And what more can we do that that executive order did not include?"

What Biden is saying?

Biden has said he is in support of reviving the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

"I think we should do it right now. We should have done it before," Biden told reporters on Monday.

But he also admitted he needs congressional assistance.

"As you know, I did it by executive order for the federal side," he said. "But I can't do it otherwise without the help of the rest of the Congress."

What are other lawmakers saying about police reform?

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for a "national conversation" on federal police accountability legislation, during ABC's "This Week."

But any legislation will need buy-in from Republicans, who control the House and are skittish on using federal legislation to solve police misconduct problems.

"I don't know that there's any law that can stop that evil that we saw," said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, on NBC's "Meet the Press."

What happened to previous police reform efforts?

In the wake of Nichols' death, lawmakers have called for a renewal of police reform talks after the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act failed to gain traction in Congress.

Bipartisan negotiations on the bill collapsed in 2021 when Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., failed to reach a compromise on what policies would be included in the legislation.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: State of the Union: Black lawmakers to press Biden on police reform


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