Rep. Jim Clyburn is a political juggernaut.
He is a kingmaker.
He is a South Carolina god.
But Jim Clyburn is out of his goddamn mind if he truly believes that qualified immunity—the legal doctrine that protects officers from being sued—doesn’t need to be part of policing reform legislation, .
“I will never sacrifice good on the altar of perfect. I just won’t do that,” Clyburn said on CNN’s State of the Union.
“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. … 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,” he said.
Nigga, huh? Respectfully.
Clyburn is walking away from his own party and civil rights activists who have pushed to close the legal loophole that protects police officers from personal responsibility when they violate someone’s constitutional rights. Clyburn knows that this has become a major sticking point in the fight for police reform legislation between Democrats and Republicans, who you already know don’t want any changes to anything that would hurt officers even as they continue to fuck up.
For some reason, Clyburn decided to go on television in front of God and err’body and change the focus of the conversation to officer recruitment.
“I have been saying from the beginning we have well-trained police officers. We have got to do a better job of recruiting police officers. We have got to get good people. No matter how good the training, if you don’t have good people, the training does no good,” he told State of the Union host Jake Tapper. “Now, the problem we have got now is that there are some bad apples in policing. We have seen it in our living rooms. We know it’s still there. We have got to root out the bad apples, and let’s go forward with a good, solid program.”
If I close my eyes really tight and have someone not named Jim Clyburn read me this statement, I would swear that it sounds like Republican talking points.
From the Washington Post:
In March, the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, an overhaul of police practices that would ban the use of chokeholds, strengthen federal civil rights laws, create a national database to track officer misconduct and end qualified immunity, making it easier for officers to be sued for their actions in the line of duty. The legislation has failed to advance in the Senate.
President Joe Biden wants to have a bill in place by May 25, the first anniversary of the murder of Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
“Since then, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has sought to reach a deal. A recent meeting included Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), as well as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.),” the Post reports.
Many lawmakers in that bipartisan group report that qualified immunity, as well as “whether the standard for federal civil rights prosecutions of officers should be lowered, remained the key sticking points that have kept the Senate from taking up the legislation,” according to the Post.
I’m all for keeping the train on schedule, but not like this. Sometimes you have to fight for what you know is right, and officers knowing that they can be held accountable for their actions will be pivotal in preventing reckless shootings during police stops. And I know that police body cameras were supposed to deter those efforts but police know how to turn those off and they aren’t punished for that either.