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Ben Crump says lawmakers committed to “meaningful” police reform

▶ Watch Video: Attorney Ben Crump “optimistic” about police reform legislation

A bipartisan group of lawmakers working on police reform have promised “meaningful” legislation on the issue, according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Crump described the “very emotional” meeting he and family members of several Black men killed by police had with lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week.

“The families bared their heart out. They told those legislators that this proposed legislation will have our families’ blood on it so it has to be meaningful. They all committed that it would be meaningful legislation, not watered down legislation,” Crump said in an interview with CBSN anchor Anne-Marie Green on Thursday. 

President Biden has called on Congress to pass police reform by May 25, the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, who was pinned down under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests over police brutality against Black Americans. The former officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of murder in April. 

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has already passed in the House but faces uncertainty in the Senate. The bill would limit qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that shields officials from civil lawsuits in many cases; create a national registry of misconduct complaints; establish a framework to prohibit racial profiling; and lower the “criminal intent” standard needed to convict police officers, among other things. 

Lawmakers who met with Crump and the families last week included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Cory Booker, Republican Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, and Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, Crump said. Bass was the lead sponsor of the House bill. 

“It became very emotional in that meeting,” Crump said. “If you’re emotional it compels you to act. It compels you to do something.” 

Ben Crump, the attorney representing George Floyd’s family, speaks with the media following a meeting on police reform with Republican Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham on Capitol Hill, April 29, 2021. 

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Scott, the Senate’s only Black Republican, told victims’ families that he had a commitment from the Republican Party “that they will follow his lead on legislation that he felt he can agree with the Democrats on,” Crump said. 

Scott made the same point on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, and said “significant numbers” of Republicans have voiced their support.

“It is our fervent belief that they will do something for the first time in 57 years to get meaningful police reform in the federal government of the United States of America,” Crump said.

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