Sanders: Police departments that violate civil rights should lose federal funding

Sanders: Police departments that violate civil rights should lose federal funding
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins Louisiana primary Oh, Canada: Should the US emulate Canada's National Health Service? Trump glosses over virus surge during Florida trip MORE (I-Vt.), a leading progressive in the Senate, said that police departments that are found to have violated a person’s civil rights should lose their federal funding. 

“Every police department violating people's civil rights must be stripped of federal funding,” the former presidential candidate tweeted.

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The tweet follows several consecutive days of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer in Minneapolis pinned him to the ground by kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes. Video showing Floyd pleading that he couldn’t breathe went viral, sparking a wave of demonstrations against police brutality and racial inequality across the country. 

The officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while three other officers on the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting. All four have been fired.

Floyd’s death followed a string of other high-profile events, including a white woman calling the police on a black bird watcher who asked her to leash her dog and the killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

Taken together, they have led to calls from a slew of Democrats for a range of police reforms regarding the use of force, including banning chokeholds and publicizing guidelines regarding when officers are permitted to use force.

Those calls have only been heightened after law enforcement officers forcefully dispersed a crowd of peaceful protesters in front of the White House Monday, after which President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose in front of the cameras holding a Bible. 

Some progressive activists have called on all police departments to lose federal funding, though that opinion has failed to gain traction among lawmakers.