WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a lead co-sponsor of the Justice in Policing Act, on Wednesday released the following statement after voting against the motion to proceed to the Republican bill on policing:
“Our country is demanding an end to the constant loss of Black life at the hands of police. Americans are demanding an end to Black Americans having to live in fear that their sons, daughters, grandchildren, students, or loved ones will be next. And it is Congress’ duty to meet this movement by putting forth a solution that will achieve police accountability and take meaningful steps to end these horrific killings.
“The Republican bill was written to check a box, not save a life. It is designed to obstruct real solutions and completely ignores changes that would have saved the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless Black Americans killed at the hands of law enforcement. It does nothing to address the need to hold police accountable for misconduct. This bill fails to adopt a national use of force standard. It fails to ban no-knock warrants in drug cases, and dangerous maneuvers such as chokeholds and carotid holds. It fails to address, let alone end, qualified immunity for police, which would allow the families of those victimized by an officer’s misconduct to seek justice in our courts. The only problem it solves is Republicans’ political problem of having nothing to say.
“Our country is demanding that we fundamentally re-imagine public safety and policing in America. Instead of responding to the demands of the people, Senate Republicans are offering billions more in funding for local law enforcement to preserve the status quo. Rushing more money to local departments to put more police on the streets is just wrong thinking and will not make our communities safer. Safe communities are healthy communities, and achieving healthy communities will require us to re-evaluate spending and invest in education, mental health, access to health care, job training, and affordable housing.
“Now is the time for Congress to pass legislation that shows the American people that we are on the road to justice. For far too long, we have talked about training. And we have talked about data. These measures, standing alone, are not enough – we need action. We need to pass laws that actually solve systemic problems, not just passively observe them. We must give state attorneys general the authority to launch independent investigations of police misconduct and excessive force; require the Department of Justice to conduct pattern and practice investigations into discrimination by law enforcement agencies; and establish a national standard for use of force by police officers.
“I voted against advancing the Republican bill because it is a transparent attempt to make Congress look like it is doing something for the people when, in reality, it is not. Anything less than bold and comprehensive changes to our system, including accountability for police misconduct, is a slap in the face to the millions of Americans protesting and demanding solutions that will actually save lives. I, once again, urge my colleagues to pass the Justice in Policing Act.”