Members of the Congressional Black Caucus will lobby President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday afternoon to renew a stalled police reform effort, days after video showed Memphis police officers viciously beating Tire 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 State of the Union on Feb. 7 and share information on the findings of past executive orders on police reform.
“I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle not to focus on the dysfunction in Washington, but to remain focused on the people closest to grief who have been impacted by police brutality,” said Rep. Steven Horsford, D- Nev., president of the CBC. “And work with the Congressional Black Caucus and others to get meaningful reform passed by this Congress.”
Police reform: The Tire Nichols case reignites conversations among lawmakers about federal police legislation
“We can’t just have, you know, prayers and a moment of silence, that kind of thing,” said Rep. Alma Adams, DN.C., another member of the Black Caucus. “We have to do more.”
What would police reform look like?
“This issue is about eradicating bad policing and bad policing,” Horsford said. “And that requires legislation, including executive actions and measures that Congress can take in a bipartisan way.”
The group wants Biden to call for bipartisan police reforms next week.
“We are actively engaged to make sure we bring all stakeholders together,” said Adams. “The president will be key to that.”
Horsford also said he has already reached out to Sen. Tim Scott, RS.C., the Republican lead negotiator on police reform in 2021, and will reach out to other Republicans. But he also wants Biden to push for bipartisan support.
Moreover: Politicians and activists denounce the fatal traffic stop of Tire Nichols after the release of the video
“We need you to use that moment during the State of the Union — as if she’s going to talk about housing, jobs, and investing in Medicare and Social Security protection — to talk about the importance of keeping our community safe and rooting out bad police,” Horford said.
Nichols’ parents are attending the CBC’s State of the Union Invitational.
How did some of these reforms happen?
If necessary, Black lawmakers have said they would like to see Biden issue another executive order on police reform.
“We also want him, in terms of the executive power he has, to make sure that we are publicly collecting data on these types of incidents in police departments across the country,” Adams said.
In one example, Horsford said that data on rates of black and brown residents interacting with law enforcement officers relative to white residents and the use of force against residents should be compiled into a national database.
“It’s about transparency. It’s about accountability. And it’s about knowing what’s going on, 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 directed federal law enforcement agencies to adopt body-worn camera policies. .
The Black Caucus, however, wants an update on the effectiveness of the ordinance.
“One of the things we ask is the progress of implementing that executive order from 2022,” Horsford said. “And what else can we do that that executive order didn’t include?”
What is Biden saying?
Biden said he supports reviving the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“I think we should do it now. We should have done it sooner,” Biden told reporters on Monday.
But he also admitted that he needed assistance from Congress.
“As you know, I did it by executive order for the federal side,” he said. “But I can’t do otherwise without the help of the rest of Congress.”
What are other lawmakers saying about police reform?
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for a “national conversation” on federal police accountability legislation, on ABC’s “This Week.”
But any legislation will need the consent of Republicans, who control the House and are skittish about using federal legislation to solve problems of police misconduct.
“I don’t know that there is any law that can stop that evil that we’ve seen,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told 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 talks on police reform 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, DN.J., former Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Sen. Tim Scott, RS.C., failed to reach a compromise on which policies would be included in the legislation.
This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: State of the Union: Black lawmakers to lobby Biden on police reform