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 SchatzAlabama Republican touts provision in infrastructure bill he voted against Telehealth was a godsend during the pandemic; Congress should keep the innovation going Framing our future beyond the climate crisis 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 PaulFauci overwhelmed by calls after journal published mistake over beagle experiments McConnell looks for way out of debt ceiling box Senators make bipartisan push to block 0M weapons sale to Saudis 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. 

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 SessionsThose predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold The metaverse is coming — society should be wary 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 CottonGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks China draws scrutiny over case of tennis star Peng Shuai Biden says he's 'considering' a diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics MORE (Ark.) said Monday that President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE should use the Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty U.S. troops to cities impacted by riots.