Tim Scott responds to Durbin’s warning about ‘token, half-hearted approach’ to police reform

Republican Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) took a swipe at Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) after Durbin called the GOP police reform bill a “token, half-hearted approach.”

“Y’all still wearing those kente cloths over there @SenatorDurbin?” tweeted Scott, who is the only black Republican in the Senate and the lead architect of the Republicans’ police reform proposal. 

Scott was referring to a photo-op by congressional Democrats in the Capitol Visitor Center the day they introduced their own police reform legislation, during which they kneeled and wore traditional African kente cloth stoles. 

The move led to bipartisan criticism from conservatives and progressives who felt they appropriated African culture.

The Democratic proposal for police reform, introduced last week, seeks to place a federal ban on chokeholds, halt the use of no-knock warrants and repeal the qualified immunity doctrine, which protects officers from lawsuits over actions they take on the job. 

The Republican bill, introduced Wednesday, would incentivize departments to halt the use of chokeholds and includes new penalties for not using body cameras, requirements on law enforcement records retention and a separate bill that makes lynching a federal hate crime. It does not seek to act on no-knock warrants or qualified immunity.

“What Sen. Durbin took issue with in his floor speech was not Sen. Scott’s bill, but that the Senate Majority Leader would short circuit this critical debate and fail to make the changes needed to prevent the killing of Black Americans by police officers,” a spokeswoman for the Illinois Democrat said. “Addressing systemic racism and changing policing in America requires and deserves more than one Judiciary hearing, one floor vote, one conversation.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said Wednesday that the Republican bill “does not rise to the moment.”

Lawmakers began working on police reform legislation after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. His death sparked massive protests in dozens of U.S. cities, with protesters demanding lawmakers take action to prevent police brutality.

—Updated at 4:30 p.m. Jordain Carney contributed.

Tags Chuck Schumer Dick Durbin police reform Tim Scott

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