Bernie Sanders criticises Republican policing bill; demands end to police 'immunity'

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Updated: Jun 19, 2020, 07:48 AM(IST)

File photo: Bernie Sanders Photograph:( AFP )

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Slamming the newly unveiled GOP policing reform bill as inadequate to the task of curbing police violence and brutality, Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a speech urging the Senate to pass bold legislation that abolishes qualified immunity for law enforcement, bans police use of facial recognition technology, and ends the transfer of US military equipment to local police departments.

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has criticised the proposed Republican police reform bill, and has demanded the end to qualified immunity.

Slamming the newly unveiled GOP policing reform bill as inadequate to the task of curbing police violence and brutality, Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a speech urging the Senate to pass bold legislation that abolishes qualified immunity for law enforcement, bans police use of facial recognition technology, and ends the transfer of US military equipment to local police departments.

Also read: New York City police disbands anti-crime unit amid pressure to reform

"Now is not the time to think small or respond with superficial, bureaucratic proposals," Sanders said on the Senate floor, referring to the bill introduced Wednesday by Senator Tim Scott. "Now is not the time for more studies. Now is the time to hold racist and corrupt police officers and police departments accountable for their actions."

The Republican bill—which was immediately criticized as insufficient by civil rights groups—includes a narrow set of proposals to incentivize police departments to offer de-escalation training, establish a "museum curriculum to educate law enforcement personnel about the history of racism," and restrict the use of chokeholds by officers.

Also read: 'Stop the pain', says George Floyd's brother in first congressional hearing since his death

The GOP measure, titled the JUSTICE Act, does not touch qualified immunity, a longstanding legal doctrine that gives police officers sweeping protections from civil lawsuits. The Trump White House has also voiced opposition to abolishing qualified immunity.

While praising the nationwide protest movement sparked by the killing of George Floyd for forcing legislators to respond to police violence and systemic racism, Sanders said the Republican legislation "goes nowhere near far enough" to address the demands of the hundreds of thousands of people who have taken to the streets demanding real change.

Sanders put forth a series of transformative policy solutions that would help get at the root economic and social conditions that perpetuate inequality and state violence.

On Wednesday, Republican senators announced a new bill that aims to reform police forces in the US, amid mass protests in response to the death of George Floyd, who died after being detained by a Minneapolis police officer.

A rival police reform bill was announced by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday evening, which differs from the proposed Senate legislation by calling for national measures to be implemented and chokeholds to be banned.

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