Republican U.S. Senator Scott unveils police reforms, Democrats push for broader changes
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate republicans introduced law enforcement reform law as a rival to broader democratic legislation on Wednesday when congress three weeks after George Floyd's death tried to curb racial discrimination and police abuse.
The bill was drafted by Senator Tim Scott, the Chamber's only black Republican, and would use federal grants to prevent the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants and promote the use of body cameras.
It's less aggressive than the House of Representatives-backed competition laws, which require legal and political changes to curb police misconduct.
Floyd's death in Minneapolis on May 25, after a policeman knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, sparked weeks of widespread protests and new calls for reform. Opinion polls show broad support for police reform.
Scott https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-senate-scott/senates-only-black-republican-blasts-critics-of-his-police-reform-plan-idUSKBN23H1ZH spoke about his Past and sometimes experiences of racial discrimination have criticized President Donald Trump on this matter.
At the press conference on Wednesday, he said he had been stopped seven times by the police within a year - an experience shared by many African Americans.
"I was stopped this year because I was black," said Scott. "And so this problem continues and that is why it is so important for us to say: 'We hear you, we listen to your concerns.'"
"We are not a racist country. We are concerned with racism because there is racism in the country," he said.
Contrary to the democratic plan, Scott's bill would not allow victims of misconduct to sue the police, directly ban police chokeholds, or create new rules to limit the use of lethal violence.
Democrats said Scott's bill hadn't gone far enough.
"It pays lip service to the problem. It simply has no teeth. Literally what it suggests would not save lives," Senator Kamala Harris, one of the Chamber's two African-American Democrats, told reporters.
The House Justice Committee approved the Democratic bill late Wednesday with a vote between 24 and 14 parties and paved the way for a vote in the fully democratically controlled chamber, possibly until July 4.
Both bills make lynching a federal crime, discourage the use of lethal violence, promote the use of body cameras, and seek better police standards that prioritize methods for de-escalating confrontations with suspects.
The Republican-led Senate will discuss Scott's bill next week, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said.
It is unclear whether Senate Democrats will reject the measure or try to change it.
Trump signed an order Tuesday to send federal funds to police agencies that agree to an external review and restrict chokeholds. Top Democrats and many civil rights groups said this was insufficient.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)
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