Maxine Waters says Manchin and Sinema ‘don’t give a darn’ about policing reform

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Greg Nash
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is seen during an oversight hearing of the largest U.S. banks on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Sunday said Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) both “don’t give a darn” about police reform amid renewed calls for legislative action on the issue following the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers.

Sinema and Manchin have been fierce defenders of the Senate filibuster, which has allowed Republicans in the past two years to block Democratic priorities including voting rights, abortion protection and criminal justice reform.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Symone,” Waters told host Symone Sanders that she is “absolutely angered by the killing of young Black men in this country.”

“We keep fighting, we keep begging, we keep doing everything that we possibly can,” Waters said of the push to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. But she said those efforts were failing because “we don’t have enough members who care enough about this issue.”

“When you look at even two Democrats — Manchin of course, and of course that woman from Arizona — they don’t give a darn about this issue. They would rather have the power to determine what happens in the Senate by using their two votes for themselves than anything else,” she said.

Waters added that nothing is going to change unless people continue to protest and rally for change and elect officials who care about this issue. 

Both Manchin and Sinema have called for bipartisan solutions to address police reform, however, Republicans have shown little interest in many of the reforms being proposed by Democrats,

The bill named after George Floyd would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants for all federal law enforcement agencies, create a national registry of police abuses and make the process easier to sue and prosecute officers.

In 2020, Sinema spoke out against efforts to “defund the police” that gained traction after Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police.

“Kyrsten is focused on getting things done, and is working with colleagues in both parties on proposals including increasing the use of social workers and intervention strategies that keep Arizona families safe,” a spokeswoman told the Arizona Mirror at the time.

Manchin was among a handful of Democrats who voted in June 2020 to start debate on a narrow police reform bill crafted by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

“We must unite to discuss real reforms instead of fueling the partisan divisions that plague our legislative body,” he said in a statement at the time.

Asked about Waters’s comments Sunday, Manchin’s office referred to his statement on Nichols’s death.

“This cannot be the America we strive for, and we must come together to meaningfully address it,” Manchin said in the statement.

The Hill has reached out Sinema for comment.

Sinema and Manchin have reiterated their support for the filibuster since the new Congress convened. Sinema referred to the rule as an “important guardrail for the institution” during an appearance at the World Economic Forum earlier this month, before she and Manchin high-fived over their efforts to protect the rule.

Waters is among the many figures inside and outside of Congress who are making a renewed push for police reform after Memphis authorities released graphic footage of the Jan. 7 traffic stop of Nichols. 

The five Memphis police officers, who are all Black, were seen in the footage deploying pepper spray and a stun gun against Nichols and repeatedly punching and kicking him as he was yelling for his mother.

Nichols, 29, died from the injuries he sustained from the incident three days later. The five police officers, who were fired from the department last week, have been charged with second-degree murder and other offenses in relation to the incident.

President Biden has also called on Congress to pass the police reform bill, saying that he shares the outrage felt by many after the release of the Nichols video.

“It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day,” Biden said in his statement.

Updated at 10:46 p.m.

Tags joe manchin Joe Manchin kyrsten sinema Kyrsten Sinema Maxine Waters Maxine Waters Memphis Memphis Police Department President Biden Symone Sanders Tennessee Tyre Nichols Tyre Nichols video

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