By Kaia Hubbard
Public outcry over the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols has spurred renewed calls for police reform legislation on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers return to Washington days after graphic body cam footage was made public.
President Joe Biden, members of Congress and others have advocated for the consideration of legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the aftermath of the video’s release, pointing to the measure that passed the Democrat-controlled House in 2021 but stalled in the 50-50 Senate.
“Shame on us if we don’t use his tragic death to finally get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed,” the attorney representing the Nichols family, Ben Crump, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
The Congressional Black Caucus also urged members of Congress to work together to “address the public health epidemic of police violence that disproportionately affects many of our communities,” while calling for a meeting with Biden to push for negotiations on justice system reforms.
The White House has pushed for Congress to pass legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds, limit no-knock warrants and qualified immunity policies, among other measures, and is named after Floyd, whose death in 2020 after a police officer knelt on his neck likewise spurred public outcry and a push for legislation. But whether Congress takes up the issue – and whether it can make its way to Biden’s desk – remains to be seen.
“We need a national conversation on this,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, adding that lawmakers like Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina who spearheaded the 2021 negotiations should “sit down again quickly to see if we can revive that effort.”
“We’ve got to change this for the better,” Durbin said.
But some lawmakers weren’t as hopeful that legislation passed by Congress would make a difference. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio expressed doubt that “any law, any training, any reform” could change the situation.
“I think there’s some things we can look at,” Jordan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “But it’s just a difference in, I think, philosophy. The Democrats always think that it’s a new law that’s going to fix something that terrible.”
The calls for legislation come as the Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation into Nichols’ death, while the five officers involved in the incident were fired, charged with second-degree murder and their unit disbanded, and a sixth officer was taken off duty.
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