Democratic senator to offer amendment halting 'military weaponry' given to police

Democratic senator to offer amendment halting 'military weaponry' given to police
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Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' CDC causes new storm by pulling coronavirus guidance Overnight Health Care: CDC pulls revised guidance on coronavirus | Government watchdog finds supply shortages are harming US response | As virus pummels US, Europe sees its own spike MORE (D-Hawaii) is proposing cracking down on the military's ability to transfer weapons to local police departments. 

"I will be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments," Schatz said Sunday on Twitter.

The Democratic senator made the announcement as protests escalated around the nation in response to the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died while in Minneapolis police custody. Clashes between protesters and officers have led police in several cities to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds. 

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In a series of tweets, Schatz said that "it is clear many police departments don’t train and supervise for restraint and de-escalation, and some officers are just plain racist and violent."

"Combine this with a president who appears enthusiastic about making it worse, and weaponry transferred from [the Department of Defense], and here we are," he said. 

Schatz's proposed amendment isn't the first time lawmakers have attempted to roll back programs that allow for the transfer of military weaponry to local police departments. Schatz and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRon Paul hospitalized in Texas The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Rand Paul says he can't judge 'guilt or innocence' in Breonna Taylor case MORE (R-Ky.) introduced legislation in 2015 to prohibit “offensive” militarized equipment, such as drones and armored vehicles, from being given to local and state law enforcement through certain federal programs. 

Former President Obama later that year placed a halt on the so-called 1033 program, blocking the transfer of armored vehicles, grenade launchers and armed aircraft, among other things. 

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The decision came after a string of police shootings of African American men prompted outrage nationwide. Protests in cities such as Ferguson, Mo., also placed a spotlight on the equipment police used when responding to unrest. 

The Trump administration rescinded the restrictions in 2017, giving police departments renewed access to military surplus equipment, including grenade launchers, armored vehicles and bayonets. 

“Those restrictions went too far,” Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRoy Moore sues Alabama over COVID-19 restrictions GOP set to release controversial Biden report Trump's policies on refugees are as simple as ABCs MORE said at the time. “We will not put superficial concerns above public safety.”

Protests in the days following Floyd's death have resulted in significant destruction of private and public property, prompting cities to implement curfews and some states to mobilize the National Guard.  

GOP Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump stokes fears over November election outcome The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Abortion stirs GOP tensions in Supreme Court fight MORE (Ark.) said Monday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE should use the Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty U.S. troops to cities impacted by riots.