Biden says fight for police reform bill “not anywhere near over”

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President Biden made a pitch for his stalled police reform bill Thursday speaking at a ceremony to honor the 10th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington.

“Let me be clear though, we are going to continue to fight for real police reform legislation,” Mr. Biden said at the event. “The fight is not anywhere near over.”

Democrats have pushed for a bill that would overhaul police practices following the 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed in Minneapolis by a police officer during an arrest.

Negotiations on the bill collapsed in the U.S. Senate, a major setback for Mr. Biden, who campaigned on a pledge to change policing.

Speaking Thursday, Mr. Biden blamed Republicans, saying they obstructed the bill’s advance. He also highlighted some of the changes to policing his administration has implemented, including banning federal law enforcement officers from using chokeholds and “no-knock” warrants and requiring the use of body cameras.

He also noted that the Justice Department has opened misconduct investigations into local police forces in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Louisville.

“We are not standing back,” he said. “We have much more to do.”

Senators reached an impasse on the policing bill last month amid disputes over eliminating qualified immunity, which protects police officers from civil lawsuits for misconduct.

Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican, blamed Democrats for the collapse, saying they used “a partisan approach to score political points,” noting that both parties had reached an agreement on a number of the bill’s major priorities.

But Democrats said the Republicans blocked the bill, refusing to support some of the key provisions.

Mr. Biden joined Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus at the celebration of the memorial’s dedication.

The King memorial features a 30-foot stone statue of him with 14 quotes. It was the first memorial to honor a Black person on the National Mall in Washington.

The memorial was supposed to be dedicated in August 2011 but the ceremony was moved to October because of Hurricane Irene. 

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