Rep. Bass willing to negotiate on police reform, says denying systemic racism 'doesn't help anyone'

Rep. Bass: We have to find a way to hold police officers accountable (Graphic Warning)

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., discusses police reform and the shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, indicated a willingness to negotiate over the issue of qualified immunity for officers as Congress tackles police reform, but insisted that steps must be taken to hold cops accountable for their actions.

Republicans such as Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., have suggested keeping individual officers from being sued while making it easier to hold police departments liable for their officers’ conduct. While Bass suggested that this may not be enough, she is willing to bend to a degree.

“I don’t know if I’m willing to blow up the deal,” she told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace over whether qualified immunity was a dealbreaker. “I don’t consider that blowing it up. But we do have to look at ways.”

Bass said that if Graham and Scott “can show us some other way to hold officers accountable” that could work.

Wallace had pointed out that even if officers are immune from lawsuits, they can still be fired for their conduct. Bass countered by stating that Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder last week for the death of George Floyd, “had multiple complaints against him” before Floyd’s death.

Bass also said that if Chauvin had been acquitted, he could have filed for arbitration and potentially have gotten his job back without the police chief having the power to say no.

Earlier in the program, Graham had insisted that while there are “bad actors” in law enforcement, there is no systemic problem of racism. Bass disagreed, claiming that even if the current legal system does not have blatantly racist laws, the country is still feeling the effects of the past.


“You can look back at our history’s laws and over time there were many laws that were put in place that were absolutely racist. And over time those laws might have changed, but the conditions haven’t changed,” she said. “You can look at each of our institutions. Why is there such massive inequality when it comes to education, when it comes to health care? Why does that exist? And so we have to figure out a way to talk about it. Right now to say it does not exist doesn’t help anyone.”

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