Congressional Black Caucus pushes Biden on police reform
CORRECTION: President Biden’s State of the Union address is Feb. 7. A previous version of this story included incorrect information.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with President Biden at the White House to push him on police reform a day after the funeral for Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died after a beating by police in Memphis.
“The death of Tyre Nichols is yet another example of why we need action,” Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), chair of the caucus, told Biden Thursday. “You’ve already led on the action we’ve been able to take on executive order. We need your help on legislative action to…make public safety the priority.”
The killing of Nichols has stoked calls for police reform, especially after graphic video footage of his arrest showed officers striking him repeatedly and tear-gassing him as he cried out for his mother.
In May 2022, Biden signed an Executive Order that banned choke holds, restricted no-knock warrants and required body-worn cameras on patrols and during searches and arrests.
“My hope is this dark memory [of Tyre Nichols’s death] spurs some action that we’ve all been fighting for,” Biden told members on Thursday.
“We got to stay at it, as long as it takes,” he added.
In a statement earlier this week, Horsford said what happened to Nichols was “a grim reminder that we still have a long way to go in solving systemic police violence in America.”
“No one in our nation should fear interacting with the police officers who serve our diverse communities, large and small,” he said. “We all want to be safe. Many Black and brown people, however, and many young people in general, are justifiably afraid to interact with law enforcement officials.”
At Nichols’s funeral on Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris implored Congress to pass police reform.
“We demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” implored Harris, who sponsored the bill when she was a senator. “Joe Biden will sign it and we should not delay and we will not be denied. It is not negotiable.”
The legislation, which has stalled in Congress and is unlikely to move forward in a GOP House, was introduced in 2021 after the murder of Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. In addition to banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, it would end qualified immunity and prohibit racial and religious profiling by law enforcement officers.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is expected to reintroduce the bill with an added “Tyre Nichols Duty to Intervene” amendment after Biden’s Feb. 7 State of the Union address.
Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, pleaded with Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“There should be no other child that should suffer the way my son and all the other parents here that have lost their children,” Wells said. “We need to get that bill passed, or the next child that dies, that blood is going to be on their hands.”
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