House Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on police brutality next week

Greg Nash

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday on police brutality amid the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while being arrested in Minneapolis.

Witnesses have not yet been announced, but Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said they would include community leaders, activists, experts and law enforcement. 

Nadler framed the hearing as a first step toward taking up legislation in the coming weeks to prevent the excessive use of force and racial profiling. 

“People are rightfully upset, they are frustrated, and they want to be heard. They want real change, not meaningless words. I want Americans to know that I hear them, and I see them,” Nadler said in a statement on Wednesday. “We are reviewing legislative proposals and will consider legislation in the coming weeks.”

The Judiciary Committee and members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are still discussing legislative proposals, some of which have previously been introduced in recent years in response to similar incidents of unarmed African Americans dying in confrontations with law enforcement. 

“This is our moral moment – we must look at legislation to address laws that shield police officers from ever being accountable,” CBC Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced last week that his panel would also hold a hearing on police use of force. 

“We intend to shine a bright light on the problems associated with Mr. Floyd’s death, with the goal of finding a better way forward for our nation,” Graham said Friday. 

Floyd died after a now-former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, despite Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe.”

The officer has since been charged with second-degree murder. 

Protests have erupted in cities across the nation, including Washington, and have at times led to looting and violence. 

CBC members have called for banning the use of chokeholds and ending the Defense Department practice of giving surplus military-grade weapons to local law enforcement as some of the ways forward legislatively. Some lawmakers have also introduced symbolic measures in recent days to formally condemn police brutality and call for a commission to study the legacy of slavery.

Tags deaths in police custody George Floyd I can't breathe Jerrold Nadler Jerry Nadler Karen Bass Lindsey Graham police brutality

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