Bonnie Cash

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Sunday that he did not grow up “in fear of police” but now does fear law enforcement officers, as many young black Americans do. 

“I didn’t grow up in fear of police, even in a segregated environment. We never feared the police. But all of a sudden now, I do fear the police. The young blacks fear the police,” Clyburn, 79, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

“Why? Because we have built in a system that’s responding, once again, to Brown vs. Board of Education and everything that comes with it,” Clyburn added, referring to the landmark Supreme Court decision ruling racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. 

Clyburn said Sunday that policing in the U.S. needs to be restructured, but he did not call for defunding the police, as some of the more progressive members of his party and activists have been pushing for. 

“Nobody is going to defund the police. We can restructure the police forces, restructure, reimagine policing. That is what we are going to do,” Clyburn said. “The fact of the matter is the police have a role to play. What we’ve got to do is make sure that their role is one that meets the times, one that responds to these communities that they operate in.” 

“The fact of the matter is, this is the structure that has been developed that we’ve got to deconstruct. I wouldn’t say defund. Deconstruct our policing,” he added. 

Clyburn also suggested there is room for compromise to pass a police reform bill between the two legislative packages being presented by Democrats and Republicans. 

Asked if the Republican bill is a “non-starter,” Clyburn said he never calls anything a non-starter. 

“There’s always potential for compromise, in my opinion, when you’re trying to do legislation. Our system is designed that way,” he said. 

“Let’s let both houses do whatever they’re going to to do and then get down to the serious business of reconciling,” he added. 

A push for legislation has been amplified in the wake of nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd. 

Floyd died on Memorial Day in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. The officer and three others were fired and have been charged.

Tags defund the police George Floyd James Clyburn police brutality police reform Sunday talk shows

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