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Congress Plans Hearings on Racial Violence and Use of Force by the Police

  • May 31, 2020

In addition to drafting new legislation, Mr. Nadler said he was looking at a bill introduced by Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York that would place a federal ban on the use of chokeholds or any pressure to the neck by the police.

Mr. Jeffries, who represents Brooklyn, initially introduced the legislation in 2015 after the death of Eric Garner by police chokehold, and it would have made the tactic used by the officer in Mr. Floyd’s case illegal. In videos of the episodes, Mr. Garner and Mr. Floyd could both be heard saying “I can’t breathe” in the moments before their deaths.

The committee is also likely to take up the bill establishing a commission that would be tasked with investigating racial disparities in education, criminal justice, health and employment and recommending policy changes. Sponsored by Representative Frederica Wilson, Democrat of Florida, the bill has also been put forward in the Senate by Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida; Kamala Harris, Democrat of California; and Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey.

Representative Karen Bass, Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in an interview on Friday that she was still looking to develop other proposals to address state laws that protect officers who use force when they say they feel threatened.

“This stuff is happening so fast,” she said, “we literally have not had a chance to have that conversation.”

Ms. Bass is among a group of prominent progressive lawmakers who are pressing for a vote on a separate, nonbinding resolution they introduced on Friday “condemning all acts of police brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive and militarized force throughout the country.” It calls on law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels to commit to reforms.

“There can be no justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or any of the human beings who have been killed by law enforcement,” Representative Ayanna Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts and a sponsor of the measure, wrote on Twitter. “For in a just world, they would still be alive. There must, however, be accountability.”

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