Lisa Cylar Barrett, the group’s director of policy, said that Scott’s measure “allows federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to continue to use policing tactics that have been known to hurt communities of color, such as chokeholds and no-knock warrants.”
“In this moment, we cannot support legislation that does not embody a strong accountability framework for police officers and other law enforcement who engage in misconduct as well as needed reforms to policing practices,” Cylar Barrett said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump, an attorney who is representing the Floyd family, also issued statements Monday urging senators to oppose the GOP bill. Sharpton called the legislation “a nonstarter in the conversation to truly make a difference when it comes to the pervasive issue of over-policing Black communities.”
Crump said the Senate GOP bill as written stands “in direct contrast to the demands of the people” who have been protesting for far-reaching police reforms in the wake of Floyd’s death.
“The Black community is tired of the lip service and is shocked that this $7 billion package can be thought of as legislation,” Crump said.
The Republican proposal, which Senate leaders said will be considered on the floor this week, veers away from mandating certain policing practices, as a House Democratic plan does.
Instead, the GOP plan encourages thousands of local police and law enforcement agencies to curtail practices such as chokeholds and certain no-knock warrants by withholding federal funding to departments that allow the tactics or do not submit reports related to them.
Even before the GOP bill was unveiled last week, Democrats criticized it as falling short of the sweeping action they say is expected by the public in response to the high-profile police killings of unarmed black men, including Floyd.
Schumer emphasized that point in a floor speech Monday afternoon in which he criticized the Republican proposal as “fundamentally flawed,” arguing that “as hundreds of thousands of Americans of all ages and colors take to the streets to demand change, we need legislation that rises to the moment.”
“I would repeat this important warning: if we pass a bill that’s ineffective, and the killings continue, and police departments resist change, and there’s no accountability, the wound in our society will not close, it will fester,” Schumer said. He added that if the bill would not have prevented the deaths of Floyd and others, and “won’t stop future deaths of Black Americans in police custody, then it does not represent the change we need right now.”
Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.