Congressman: GOP should 'fight back' and refuse to do any police reform

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Rep. Andy Biggs does not want Congress to do anything about local police violence.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) is rejecting calls for any congressional action on police brutality. In an op-ed published by the Washington Times on Tuesday, he accused members of his own party of following the "radical left" toward "Marxist, totalitarian rule" by considering even modest police reform proposals.

Biggs rejected the very idea that police violence against Black Americans is a real problem.

"When Democrats claim that there is institutional racism in our police agencies, Republicans don't cite the reduction in police on African-American shootings by more than 300% over the past five years," Biggs wrote. "Republicans don't point out the 8,000 murders of African-Americans last year and only 10 police on black shootings (six of whom were attacking officers)."

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Fact-checkers have debunked this argument before: Police reportedly shot and killed at least 13 unarmed Black men last year. And that number ignores many more Black Americans killed by law enforcement in other ways. George Floyd, whose death sparked much of the current movement, was killed after a police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Biggs wrote that Republicans "accept the premise of violent leftists. We acquiesce to their demands to nationalize local police tactics, and effectively insert the national government into local policing." Instead, he wrote, they should "fight back, instead of acquiescing to the premises of the hard left."

"Legislatively dancing with the Democrats is akin to fiddling while Rome burns."

Several members of Biggs' own party have urged at least some action to address police violence and racism.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott introduced the JUSTICE Act, which would use grant funding as an incentive for localities to restrict the use of chokeholds and collect data on use of force by police.

Scott, the lone Black Republican in the Senate, noted in 2018 that in one year, he was pulled over by police seven separate times.

Democrats have pushed for more direct federal intervention. They opposed Scott's bill as "inadequate."

A motion to advance the bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed to pass on Wednesday.

Even some of Biggs' Republican House colleagues say some action is necessary.

"I'm continuing to fight for real & meaningful police reform. We owe it to the memory of George Floyd, as well as good police officers who risk their lives to protect us, to work together & make positive change," tweeted North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson on Monday.

"The killing of George Floyd has sparked a reform movement that must be answered at the federal, state and local levels," tweeted Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan.

"How do bad actors in police departments get away with being reinstated?" asked Georgia Rep. Jody Hice. "They're protected by unions. It's beyond time for serious reform."

Biggs has frequently presented himself as a defender of local law enforcement, but voted last month against a massive funding bill to help cash-strapped local governments survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the Major Cities Chiefs Association asked Congress for emergency funds such as those mandated in the HEROES Act, warning that otherwise "police activities will be affected by a revenue shortfall," Biggs refused to support the legislation.

In a video explaining his position, he said, "We shouldn't be spending another penny at this point" to address the crisis.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.