The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus shut down calls from activists and their supporters — including her colleague, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib — for a national defunding of police departments.
However, the chairwoman, Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California, said the House of Representatives plans to pass police reforms this month.
Black Lives Matter activists and protesters have been circulating a petition to #DefundThePolice in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis.
We call for an END to the systemic racism that allows this culture of corruption to go unchecked and our lives to be taken. See the Demands. Sign the Petition. #DefundThePolice #blacklivesmatter https://t.co/xGULtImAOY
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) May 31, 2020
The movement wants governments to stop funding police departments and instead give the money to education, health care and other social services.
Bass said she doesn’t think defunding the police is the answer to the issue, Fox News reported.
“No, I don’t believe that we should defund police departments,” she said during a Wednesday news conference.
Bass met with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Native American Caucus to call for a package of police reform bills that could be passed later this month.
“Instead of *who* killed #GeorgeFloyd, we should focus on *what* killed George. Until then, we won’t have justice,” said Tlaib, a member of “the squad” of progressive freshmen congresswomen.
“Know that it’s still both, but don’t let the ‘who’ overshadow the decades of structural racism that has created the system that allows police officer after police officer off the hook for murder,” she said. “I just want us to dig deeper so that the #DefundPolice movement isn’t brushed aside.”
Too many folks are confused when they hear we need to #DefundPolice. I ask you to engage in this debate with an openness. There is real validity in dismantling the current racist system that has led to this pain.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) May 31, 2020
Bass said the proposals the House is working on aim to hold law enforcement officers accountable for their actions.
“The most important is holding police accountable because right now it is difficult to sue, you can very rarely fire and you can almost never prosecute,” she said.
“So we need to deal with the laws that make is so difficult to hold police accountable.”
A package of bills is also being developed in the Senate by the Congressional Black Caucus and Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.
“Persistent, unchecked bias in policing and a history of lack of accountability is wreaking havoc on the Black community,” Booker said in a statement.
“Cities are literally on fire with the pain and anguish wrought by the violence visited upon black and brown bodies,” he said. “There’s no one singular policy change that will fix this issue tomorrow — we need an entire set of holistic reforms to improve police training and practices, and ensure greater accountability and transparency.”
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