Maxine Waters says she wants to end qualified immunity for police

“I am not giving up,” said Waters of a key clause in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

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California congresswoman Maxine Waters is making her stance on qualified immunity very clear.

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During an interview with The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart, Waters made it known that unlike some of her peers, she is not interested in removing qualified immunity from developing police reform legislation.

“I am not giving up on qualified immunity,” said Waters. “I do not want to send a message to anybody that I am willing to support legislation that does not have it in it. I think we have got to be tough, we have got to be consistent and understand that we have got to hold police officers accountable.”

Waters comments come after some Democratic lawmakers say they are willing to compromise the rule that protects officers from civil lawsuits in order to get the stalled police reform bill passed.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison recently appeared on the same show and said:

“Don’t let the bill die over an item we can come back for later… if we can get everything except that [qualified immunity], then I say pass it.”

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn shocked progressive lawmakers earlier this month when he said he is willing to exclude qualified immunity in order to get the bill passed, as reported by theGrio.

“I will never sacrifice good on the altar of perfect. I just won’t do that. I know what the perfect bill will be. We have proposed that. I want to see good legislation. And I know that, sometimes, you have to compromise,” Clyburn said on Sunday’s episode of CNN’s State of the Union. 

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) gathers with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the Rayburn Room to watch the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“If we don’t get qualified immunity now, then we will come back and try to get it later. But I don’t want to see us throw out a good bill because we can’t get a perfect bill.” 

Clyburn’s comments come as Democrat and Republican senators are currently reviewing The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, which passed the House in March but has stalled in the Senate.

The House version of the bill includes limits to qualified immunity for police officers, a national database to track officer misconduct, bans chokeholds, and relaxes the legal standard for officer misconduct convictions. 

President Joe Biden has implored the Senate to pass the bill by May 25 – the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder.  

Lawmakers are more concerned with working out the deal than hitting President Biden’s deadline.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary said on Thursday the White House is “in close touch” with lawmakers and would “certainly defer to the expectations of the key negotiators here.”

On Friday, 10 House Democrats sent a letter to top Democrat and Republican in the Senate and House expressing their concerns over nixing the item for a bipartisan deal.

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Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) speaks during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on May 19, 2021. (Photo by Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images)

“Given that police violence, as a weapon of structural racism, continues to have devastating and deadly consequences for Black and brown lives across our country, we strongly urge you to not only maintain but strengthen the provision eliminating qualified immunity as negotiations in the Senate continue,” wrote lawmakers, including Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri in the group letter.

According to a study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Black Americans are 3.23 times more likely to be shot by a police officer than a white person.

The letter adds: “As a result of qualified immunity, police killings regularly happen with virtual impunity. It’s long past time for that to end.”

Read More: Echoing Maxine Waters, Jim Clyburn says Americans must ‘confront injustice’

A few Senate Republicans fear ending qualified immunity because they say it could open officers and departments up to a slew of lawsuits.

Additional reporting by Sytonia Reid

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