A group of Democrats in the house, ten strong, has issued the demand that any package involving police reform must include a complete ban on qualified immunity for all police officers. A move that just may destroy all chances at a bipartisan bill on the issue.
For the most part, Republicans in the house have been against the efforts to revoke qualified immunity from police officers. Qualified immunity is the legal shield that protects government employees from being found personally responsible for the violation of a person’s rights during the course of said employee’s duties except in certain circumstances.
The Democrat, Representative Cori Bush (D-MO), leading the crusade for the House progressives that seeks the complete revocation of qualified immunity. With the House currently split 211 Republicans to 219 Democrats, Bush and a group of nine other reps are currently supporting the crusade to tank and police reform bill by defecting and siding with Republicans. If the Democrats of the House were to accept the reforms set out by Bush, the bill would most likely fail to pass through the Senate where there is a united GOP resistance set against it, as reported to Fox News.
This past Friday, Bush issued a letter that contained her demands to Republican and Democratic leaders inside the House and Senate. The reps that signed the open letter alongside Bush are Reps. Mondaire Jones (NY), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Ilhan Omar (MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), Jamaal Bowman (NY), and Pramila Jayapal (WA).
“[W]e are concerned by recent discussions that the provision ending qualified immunity for local, state, and federal law enforcement may be removed in order to strike a bipartisan deal in the Senate,” reads the letter. “Given that police violence, as a weapon of structural racism, continues to have devastating and deadly consequences for Black and brown lives across our country, we strongly urge you to not only maintain but strengthen the provision eliminating qualified immunity as negotiations in the Senate continue. Congress has a historic opportunity to make substantial strides in affirming the rights of people in our country, particularly Black and brown people for whom encounters with law enforcement are routinely violent and deadly.”
“As negotiations continue, know this: there can be no true justice in America if we cannot save lives, just like there can be no true accountability in America if we do not eliminate qualified immunity,” the letter goes on to say. “Our nation is hurting. Our communities are hurting. Black and brown people who bear the brunt of police violence are hurting. Enacting the reforms included in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is not only long-overdue, but a matter of responsible policymaking. It is essential to our work in preventing the onslaught of police violence that has robbed so many in our communities of their loved ones. Maintaining and strengthening the provision that would eliminate qualified immunity once and for all, would put us on a path towards true accountability and help end the systemic and systematic harm that has long been perpetuated by American policing”
Currently, President Joe Biden is aggressively urging Congress as a whole to put forth a police reform package to his desk by the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd’s death, that is rapidly approaching.