Combating Police Violence
With people all across the country protesting and marching to condemn police violence, demand justice, and declare unequivocally that Black Lives Matter, Congress must do more than decry police brutality, racial profiling, and the excessive use of force – we must act. Below is a (growing) list of the various legislative proposals I am supporting to do just that.
H.Res. 988: Condemning all acts of police brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive and militarized force throughout the country. (original cosponsor)
Introduced on May 29, 2020 after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and hundreds of others at the hands of police officers throughout the country, this resolution led by Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, in partnership with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Congresswoman Karen Bass, goes beyond just condemnation, but also calls for the adoption of reforms at all levels of government.
These reforms include:
- Efforts to improve oversight and independent investigations to hold individual law enforcement officers and police departments accountable,
- Calling on the Department of Justice to reassert its statutory authority to investigate individual instances of racial profiling, police brutality and violence and investigate and litigate individual law enforcement officers and police departments routinely violating civil rights;
- Supporting efforts to establishing all-civilian review boards with the authority to investigate incidents of police misconduct to ensure community-level oversight, accountability, and disciplinary action of police officers; and
- The adoption of sound and unbiased law enforcement policies at all levels of government that reduce the disparate impact of police brutality, racial profiling and use of force on Black and Brown people and other historically marginalized communities.
H.R.4408 - Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2019 (cosponsor)
Introduced by Democratic Caucus Chair Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, H.R. 4408 will bar the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers and amend/clarify current existing law to make the practice a criminal offense.
H.R. 125 - Police Training and Independent Review Act of 2019 (cosponsor)
Led by Congressman Steve Cohen, this bill would incentivize local police departments to require sensitivity training on ethnic and racial bias, cultural diversity, and interactions with the disabled, mentally ill and new immigrants, and conduct independent investigations and prosecution of incidents in which police use of deadly force results in a death or injury by providing grants through the Department of Justice to departments that implement reforms. Continued grant eligibility would depend on police department compliance with reforms.
H.R. 119 - National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act of 2019 (cosponsor)
This bill, also introduced by Congressman Cohen, requires law enforcement agencies across federal, state, and local jurisdictions to collect, compile, and submit data to the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics on the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers. This, in effect, would establish a national database on police violence.
H.R. 1636 - The Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act of 2019 (cosponsor)
This proposal from Congresswoman Frederica Wilson would create a bipartisan commission to study societal issues and other challenges that specifically affect Black males and recommend solutions.
End Qualified Immunity Act (cosponsor)
Led by Congressman Justin Amash, this bill would end qualified immunity, a policy that protects government officials (including law enforcement officers) from civil lawsuits that alleging that the official violated an individual’s rights in performing their government duties. Qualified immunity has been used to shield law enforcement officers from civil cases brought by victims of police violence and their families. This bill will allow Americans to seek justice by eliminating qualified immunity for federal, state, and local law enforcement officers.
H.R. 4359 – Support Police Accountability by Raising Standard for Use of Excessive Force (PEACE) Act (cosponsor)
The PEACE Act, introduced by Congressmen Lacy Clay and Ro Khanna, would mandate that law enforcement’s use of force be a last resort. This proposal requires officers to first exhaust de-escalation techniques and restricts the use of deadly force unless needed to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury to the officer or others.
Letter to Attorney General Barr Urging that He Appoint a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Use of Force Against Peaceful Protestors Outside of the White House on June 1 (co-signer)
I co-signed a letter spearheaded by Congressman David Cicilline calling on AG Barr to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump Administration’s decision to use aggressive tactics to disburse peaceful protestors from Lafayette Park on June 1, 2020 ahead of President Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Church. You can read the full letter here.
Caucus on Black Women and Girls Resolution Memorializing Black Women Victims of Police Brutality (cosponsor)
Too often, Black women victims of police brutality are overlooked. In addition to recognizing this wrong, this resolution states that any legislation passed by the House to remedy racial inequality in our country, especially in the criminal justice system, must also address concerns for Black women. We are also calling for the creation of a commission to study the status of black women and girls, including the social and systemic barriers they uniquely face and the remedies and reforms that we must enact to create more fair and equal treatment. You can read the full resolution here.
H.R. 1684: Journalist Protection Act (cosponsor)
We’ve all seen the assaults and attacks on journalists around the country (and world) under the Trump Administration, most recently during peaceful protests. This bill, authored by Congressman Eric Swalwell, would make the assault of a journalist a federal crime.
Police Receiving Overly Traumatizing Equipment Changes Today (PROTECT) Act (cosponsor)
Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s proposal incentivizes police departments to return military-grade equipment back to the Department of Defense and reforms the 1033 program by ensuring that military equipment transferred to police departments can only be used for counterterrorism activities. In exchange for returning this equipment to the Defense Department, departments would be given priority for new grants for de-escalation training, racial or cultural bias training, minimal use of force training, or purchases of cameras for officers.
Letter to AG Barr Demanding Identification of Unknown Law Enforcement in Washington, DC (co-signer)
On June 4, I joined with more than 120 of my House colleagues in demanding information from AG Barr about the deployment of unidentified law enforcement officers in Washington, DC during Black Lives Matters protests. This letter, led by Representatives Jamie Raskin, Don Beyer, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, was sent following reports that AG Barr deployed DOJ law enforcement officers without any identifying markings of any kind. This lack of information undermines public safety, trust, and peace. You can read the full letter here.
Stop Using Military Force Against Civilians Act (original cosponsor)
Sponsored by Congressman David Cicilline, this bill would limit Presidential authority to deploy the Armed Forces to states so that our troops are not used as a vehicle to harm civilians or end lawful protests.
Specifically, the reforms this legislation would implement include:
- Limiting the initial time in which Armed Forces may be deployed to states to a period of 72 hours.
- Requiring Congress to provide authorization for Armed Forces to remain deployed to states after that 72-hour period has passed.
- Limiting the time Congress may authorize Armed Forces to be deployed to states to 14 days, with the ability for a one-time reauthorization of an additional 14 days.
- Prohibiting appropriated funds from being used for purposes outside of the Insurrection Act, as amended.
- Ensuring that U.S. states and territories, including the District of Columbia, are treated equally under the provisions of the Insurrection Act.
- Expressing the sense of Congress that that it is contrary to the interests of the United States for the Insurrection Act to be invoked for purposes of subverting the rights of individuals protected by the Constitution.
Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (original cosponsor)
The bill, led by Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, and Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, is a comprehensive legislative package that includes provisions from other stand-alone bill that I am also cosponsoring. This bill contains reforms pertaining to qualified immunity, transparency mandates, no knock warrant restrictions, and police training, among other changes. You can read a full summary of the bill here.
Limitations on the Insurrection Act Including Mechanisms for Invoking its Termination (LIMIT) Act (original cosponsor)
During the recent peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic racism, President Trump made the troubling suggestion that he would invoke the Insurrection Act, a move that would activate the military against U.S. citizens.
This bill, introduced by Congressman Anthony Brown, would prevent a President’s abuse of the Insurrection Act by:
- mandating that the President notify Congress of their intent to invoke the Act;
- creating a Congressional mechanism for terminating an invocation; and
- ensuring accountability and Congressional oversight by requiring transparency and information sharing from the White House.
Calling on the FBI, National Guard, CBP, and DEA to stop conducting surveillance on peaceful protesters (co-signer)
I joined with 34 of my colleagues, led by Representatives Anna Eshoo and Bobby Rush, in writing to the heads of the FBI, National Guard, DEA, and CBP to express our concerns about their agencies’ surveillance tactics during recent protests. We demanded that the agencies cease any and all surveilling of Americans engaged in peaceful protests given Americans’ First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and free speech. You can read the full letter here.
Andrew Kearse Accountability for Denial of Medical Care Act (original cosponsor)
Led by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, this bill would hold federal law enforcement agencies accountable for the failure to provide medical care to those in their custody who need it. The bill also mandates training for officers to effectively respond to medical distress and directs the inspectors general of each agency that employs federal officers to refer violations of the law to the DOJ for prosecution.
H.R. 7191, Workforce Justice Act (cosponsor)
Last year, I was able to follow through on former Chairman Elijah Cummings’s Fair Chance Act by getting it signed into law by including it in the NDAA. This law “bans the box” for federal agencies and contractors. The Workforce Justice Act, led by Congressman Trone, builds on this progress by requiring states to ban private employers from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to the extension of a conditional offer of employment. If states do not institute this new policy within 3 years, they would become ineligible for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG).
H.R. 1714, Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (cosponsor)
This legislation, led by Congressman Hank Johnson, would ban the transfer of certain military equipment from the DOD to federal, state, and local law enforcement. For equipment that is transferred, the DOD must require that the receiving department return this equipment if the agency is being investing by the Justice Department for violations of civil liberties or has been found to have engaged in widespread abuse of civil liberties. Additionally, in order to receive any surplus military equipment, the law enforcement agency must receive approval from its local government, provide notice to the community, and submit information and certifications to DOD. This bill also augments oversight of these transfers by requiring periodic reports from the DOD.
H.R.120, Police CAMERA Act of 2019 (cosponsor)
This bill from Congressman Steve Cohen that would help local and state law enforcement purchase body cameras by amending the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to authorize a grant program.
H.R. 4339, End Racial Profiling Act of 2019 (cosponsor)
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s proposals would create a ban on racial profiling, enforceable by declaratory or injunctive relief. The bill also mandates training on racial profiling issues be part of all Federal law enforcement training and the collection of data on all routine or spontaneous investigatory activities that is to be submitted through a standardized form to the Department of Justice. Additionally the bill authorizes the DOJ to provide grants for the development and implementation of best policing practices, such as early warning systems, technology integration, and other management protocols that discourage profiling. It also increases transparency and accountable by requiring the Attorney General to provide periodic reports assessing any ongoing discriminatory profiling practices.
H.R. 2927, Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act of 2019 (cosponsor)
This legislation, sponsored by Congresswoman Gwen Moore, requires state and local governments who participate in the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program to train law enforcement officers on de-escalation techniques and require that officers employ these techniques.
Right to Protect Real Objectors Taking Exception to Systemic Transgressions (PROTEST) Act (original cosponsor)
This bill, introduced by Congresswoman Alma Adams, will protect Americans who are exercising their right to protest from overly hostile conduct from law enforcement. It criminalizes the use of riot control agents, including tear gas, without a clear, audible warning given beforehand and a reasonable amount of time to disperse. Troops are banned from deploying tear gas and chemical agents against enemies in war, and yet we are still using it here at home - that is unacceptable and must end.
H.R.7143 - To repeal the military surplus program under title 10, United States Code (cosponsor)
This bill sponsored by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez would eliminate the program that allows for the transfer of military-grade weapons and equipment to local and state police forces. This “1033” program was created in the early 1990s, and has since sent rifles, armored personnel carriers, and other instruments of war to our communities, militarizing police forces across the nation. There is no justification for using instruments of war on our own citizens.
Protect our Protestors Act (original cosponsor)
This legislation, led by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, would criminalize police violence against those exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest. As we have seen during the protests In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmed Arbery police have used overly aggressive and violent tactics to disperse those protesting these very tactics. This bill will ensure that any officer who kills or causes bodily harm to those peacefully protesting are held responsible and charged with federal crimes.
H.R. 2835; Deterring Undue Enforcement by Protecting Rights From Excessive Searches and Seizures Act of 2019 (cosponsor)
This bipartisan bill, led by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, seeks to combat the excessive seizure of personal property by the police, which disproportionately is carried out against people of color during the implementing of policies like Stop and Frisk. This bill would limit federal law enforcement’s ability to monetize these stops by preventing the seizure of personal property and therefore disincentivize officers from making these stops in the first place.
Letter: Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding concerns around white supremacist involvement in law enforcement. (Co-signer)
I joined Congressman Norma Torres and 26 of my colleagues in a letter to the DOJ and FBI requesting that they open an investigation into the involvement of white supremacists in law enforcement. In the letter, we write, “In 2006, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) produced an internal intelligence assessment entitled, “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement”. However, the public has not been able to benefit from this report because of its substantive redactions. Further, there has not been a recent public report on the current extent of white supremacist involvement in law enforcement nor what the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI have done since 2006 in response. The tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers have cast a spotlight on these concerns, adding renewed urgency to reforming policing in the United States. We therefore request that the DOJ and FBI release the full contents of the 2006 assessment to the public, provide an updated assessment on white supremacist infiltration in law enforcement, and report on actions DOJ and the FBI have taken to address concerns regarding white supremacist presence in law enforcement.” You can read the full letter here.
New York City & State
NYS: End Police Secrecy - Repeal 50-a (A2513-O’Donnell/S3695-Bailey)
I am supporting the New York State Legislature measures from Assemblymember Daniel J. O’Donnell and State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey to repeal 50-a, a statute that has been abused to decrease transparency and hide police misconduct. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Police must be accountable to the communities they serve.
Repeal Walking While Trans Ban (A00654-Paulin /S02253-Hoylman)
I am supporting the New York State Legislature measures from Assemblymember Paulin and Senator Hoylman which would repeal New York’s loitering for the purposes of prostitution law, or “walking while trans ban,” which essentially allows law enforcement to stop-and-frisk trans women of color. The law is unevenly and discriminatorily applied, and its repeal is necessary to protect against harmful arrests.
Investigating New York Police Department Misconduct
I support New York State Attorney General Leticia James’s investigation of NYPD’s misconduct against peaceful protesters. I vehemently oppose NYPD’s use of violence, and was appalled to see the very protestors speaking out against police violence, fall victim to it.
Related Public Statements
More on Combating Police Violence
Washington, D.C. (June 25, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, spoke on the House floor in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.
On June 8, 2020, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA), Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced this bill.
On Friday, June 19, as the nation celebrated Juneteenth, Congresswoman Carolyn B.
House Democrats are pressing the Department of Homeland Security to explain why it used a drone typically deployed to monitor the border for criminal activity to surveil protesters at a George Floyd rally in Minneapolis.
The lawmakers led by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, seek a reply from acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf by Thursday on why the Predator B drone monitored the rallies on May 29.
Two lawmakers have called for the Drug Enforcement Administration to stop conducting covert surveillance on civilians as part of the government’s plan to confront widespread protests following the killing of George Floyd last week.
President Donald Trump faces mounting criticism after protesters near the White House were tear-gassed ahead of him crossing the street to be photographed outside a church.
Following his address on Monday evening, where he discussed potentially deploying the military to tackle unrest at demonstrations across the nation, Trump visited St. John's Church, which was damaged by a fire lit during protests.