Senate Democrats successfully blocked a Republican-led police reform bill Wednesday because they say it is insufficient in addressing grievances that have swelled since George Floyd died in police custody in May.
Shortly after the measure was stymied in a procedural vote, Democratic Senator Kamala Harris called it a “political trap,” saying it is equivalent to “taking crumbs on the table when there is a hunger that America has for real solutions.”
“To those who ask, ‘well, did you miss a moment?’ Well, no. This is part of a movement. There’s a movement at play here, and that movement did not start just a few weeks ago,” she said, saying it harkens back decades. “This movement will not accept anything less than real, real substantial, substantive solutions.”
White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said on Twitter it is “a shame” that Democrats “are playing politics & blocking crucial reforms.”
Senate Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter to majority leader and Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell signaling they will block the bill, describing the legislation as “woefully inadequate.”
Floyd’s death has been a turning point for American public opinion on the need for police reform. Video captured by a bystander of his arrest showed a white Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer ignoring Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe while compressing his neck to the ground with his knee for nearly nine minutes.
Floyd was handcuffed, and the officer appeared to hold the position even after his gasps stopped and he appeared to lose consciousness.
Widespread calls have since developed for a major overhaul to policing in America, including mass demonstrations that have continued in cities across the country.
Protesters have been calling for a wide-range of what they say are badly-needed reforms, including a national ban on choke holds and no-knock search warrants, mandated body cameras, defunding or dissolving police departments, and an end to legal protections for police known as qualified immunity.