Nichols’ killing will finally force Congress to do something about the police


Alex Samuels: Brutal body cam footage showing 29-year-old Tyree Nichols being beaten to death by Memphis, Tennessee, police officers was released late Friday. The videos have sparked outrage from all corners of DC since their release But whether that will spark action is another question.

The video has revived some bipartisan calls for police reform legislation The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus also said that he and his group requested to meet with President Biden this week “to push for a discussion on much-needed national reform in our justice system. – In particular, the actions and conduct of our law enforcement agencies.”

But the discussion doesn’t necessarily start from a hopeful place. After the killing of George Floyd in 2020, both Democrats and Republicans drafted police reform bills. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed the House, but stalled in the Senate in September 2021 after months of bipartisan negotiations. Basically, neither side could get past concerns about union involvement or qualified immunity — principles that often protect police officers from being held personally liable for their actions. And those sticking points haven’t necessarily been resolved.

And while there isn’t much recent polling measuring Americans’ views on policing, a spring 2022 survey by the Gallup Center for Black Voices found overwhelming support for some level of change in how police officers do their jobs among Americans of multiple races and ethnicities.

But if the public wants to see policing change, it’s not clear lawmakers are on the same page. Let’s not forget, Republicans now control the US House and reform legislation is probably not high on their to-do list. Indeed, over the weekend, Republican Representative Jim Jordan said the following:

Representative Jim Jordan: I don’t know if you can do anything to stop the kind of evil we saw in that video.

Samuels: Meanwhile, reporting suggests that Sen. Cory Booker will reintroduce a version of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as soon as this week — and that’s where the discussion should begin in earnest. So we’ll be keeping an eye on police reform efforts and whether Congress makes any progress on this cow-around.