Senate judiciary committee holds hearing on police use of force

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June 16 (UPI) -- The Senate judiciary committee on Tuesday held a hearing on policing following the death of George Floyd which prompted global protests against racism and police violence.

Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., opened the hearing by discussing how he personally views interactions with police differently than many black Americans.

"I've learned over the years, but particularly recently, that every black man in America apparently feels threatened when they are stopped by the cops. It is not 99 percent, it's like 100 percent," he said. "When I see a cop behind me, the first thing I think about is what did I do wrong and can I talk myself out of this ticket. There is literally no fear. And I wouldn't like to live in a country where I'm afraid to be stopped."

Graham also called for the idea of lethal force by police officers to be revisited.

"Shooting somebody should be like the last resort. 'Cause once you're dead, you're dead," he said.

Ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., opened by reading off the names of black Americans killed by police, including 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks who was shot by police in Atlanta on Friday.

"I don't know how anyone can read these stories, or see the videos and not conclude that something is radically wrong in this country," Feinstein said. "And we've got to move to stop this epidemic of deadly force against black Americans."

The senators heard testimony from two panels, one on policing in the black community and another that Graham described as "folks who can tell us about the other side of the story and ways to go forward."

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said that Attorney General William Barr should have been present for the hearing "to answer for his shameful record investigating civil rights violations in police departments in America."

Earlier Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed the Safe Policing for Safe Communities order, which contains measures requiring police departments to ban the use of chokeholds to receive certification for federal grants and moves to create a national registry to track officers with multiple instances of the use of excessive force.

It also promotes the use of mental health professionals to help police deal with issues of homelessness and addiction.

The Senate last week also began drafting a bill, led by Sen. Tim Scott, seeking the same provisions included in the Trump order as well as the creations of commissions to review the criminal justice system and to conduct a study on conditions affecting black males as well as providing funds for the Justice Department to hire law enforcement officers who reflect the diversity of the communities they cover.

Protesters demand justice in police killing of George Floyd

Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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