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Steven Horsford to meet with Joe Biden to discuss police reform

Rep. Steven Horsford, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is meeting with President Joe Biden on Thursday to discuss solutions to bad policing in the aftermath of the death of Tyre Nichols after a beating by Memphis police officers.

Horsford is calling on renewed action from Biden and Congress to pass “realistic,” “reasonable” yet “meaningful” police reform.

“This is a very serious issue concerning safety and ensuring that all of our communities are safe,” the Nevada Democrat told the Review-Journal on Tuesday “Everyone should agree that bad policing should not exist anywhere in America regardless of urban, rural, what region. This is not a political issue. It’s not about what ideological sense you come from. This is about keeping everyone safe.”

Brutal death

On Jan. 7 in Memphis, 29-year-old Nichols, a Black father and FedEx employee, was brutally beaten by police during a traffic stop for what police say was reckless driving. He died a few days later in the hospital.

In video footage that has circulated nationally since it was released Friday by the city of Memphis, Nichols can be heard saying, “I didn’t do anything” and “You guys are really doing a lot right now” as police grab him.

Nichols can be seen breaking away from the officers and running before being apprehended again, when he is then beaten by police and sprayed with pepper spray as he yells for his mom, who lives a short distance away. One surveillance video shows an officer kicking him when he is on the ground. Another beats him with what looks like a baton, and another punches him while Nichols’ arms are behind his back. Nichols can then be seen slumping over against a police car.

Five officers who beat Nichols have been indicted and jailed on multiple charges, including second-degree murder and aggravated assault. Other officers have also been placed on leave pending an investigation. Two emergency medical technicians and a fire department lieutenant were also terminated.

Renewed calls for reform

Horsford spoke with Nichols’ family over the weekend, who said they wanted to see meaningful police and justice reforms come out of Congress, Horsford said.

While there have been calls for police reform in the past, especially after the murder of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in 2020, no legislation from Congress was able to cross the finish line, Horsford said.

“While we’ve made progress in some areas, we’ve still not been able to get a legislative solution across the finish line,” Horsford said.

On Thursday Biden will meet with Horsford and some of Horsford’s colleagues to discuss the issue and how they can “build momentum on legislative actions, executive actions and community-based solutions that are realistic and are reasonable but are meaningful,” Horsford said.

Horsford will ask him to help lead the way and foster bipartisan support, as he did around negotiations with the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which pushed to protect children and keep schools safe, as well as with the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the CHIPS and Science Act.

Horsford said the solutions can be found at the local level and be replicated nationally. In Las Vegas, for instance, the head of the Department of Justice’s COPS division came several years ago to work with local law enforcement and do a self assessment on the use of force and other policies.

“The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department took proactive action to help implement some of the reforms that we’re calling for on a national level,” Horsford said.

Biden has agreed to make this an issue that he talks about during the Feb. 7 State of the Union address, which the Nichols family will attend, Horsford said, because “it is about public safety, and ensuring that bad policing doesn’t exist anywhere in America, and improving the culture of policing by funding and providing resources and the necessary training that is necessary for the law enforcement officials.”

Horsford made clear that he supports law enforcement and officers who work to keep communities safe, but he is also for getting rid of bad policing.

“Tyre Nichols should be alive and so many others,” Horsford said. “For every mother and father, son and daughter who is concerned, we need to take action because it may have been Tyre Nichols yesterday, but we don’t know who it will be tomorrow. And all of us are at risk until we improve the culture of policing and get rid of bad policing wherever it exists.”

Nevada leaders speak out

Other leaders in Nevada have voiced their concerns on the death of Nichols.

“As a law enforcement veteran, I’m deeply disturbed by the death of Tyre Nichols,” said Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo in a statement. “The brutality and violence displayed by the five former Memphis police officers is unacceptable and shameful, and it has no place in law enforcement. We must condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said on Twitter that Nichols should be alive, and “justice needs to be swift.” She urged everyone to follow the Nichols family’s call for peaceful protest.

Sen. Jacky Rosen also said on Twitter that she was “shocked and horrified” by the brutal killing of Nichols.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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