03 Feb 2023, 08:36

Biden urges Black leaders to 'keep at' police reforms effort

WASHINGTON, Feb 3, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - President Joe Biden on Thursday said he hopes the death of Tyre Nichols after a police beating will spur Congress to enact police reforms, urging Black lawmakers to "keep at it."

The Oval Office meeting between Biden and members of the Congressional Black Caucus took place a day after the funeral of Nichols, a Black man who died in Memphis on January 10, three days after being brutally beaten by police during a traffic stop.

"My hope is, this dark memory spurs some action that we've all been fighting for," Biden said.

After the meeting, Representative Steven Horsford, the Congressional Black Caucus chair, said the death of Nichols was only the latest reminder of the problem of police brutality.

"Yesterday it may have been Tyre Nichols but sadly this incident, these incidents, could happen to anyone," he told reporters.

Biden's Democrats tried to pass a wide-ranging set of reforms, known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but ran into Republican opposition in the Senate in 2020.

Named for Floyd, another Black man who died after a police arrest, it would have banned dangerous chokeholds during arrests, among other measures, and would weaken the legal protections that shield police from civil lawsuits.

"You've just got to keep at it," Biden said, underlining that he had forced some "significant changes" by presidential order -- although his powers are extremely limited in changing rules for police. One of his orders banned chokeholds by federal agents.

Biden is under pressure from Black political leaders to make the issue an important part of his State of the Union speech next Tuesday, delivered before a joint session of Congress and a huge TV audience.

"It did come up," Horsford said, stressing the high profile of the occasion and saying Biden would be "uniquely able to convey" the human aspect of the suffering in his speech.


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