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Biden faces pressure on policing

China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-03 07:12

RowVaughn Wells, flanked by the Reverend Al Sharpton and her husband Rodney Wells, speaks at her son Tyre Nichols' funeral in a church in Memphis, Tennessee, on Wednesday. [Photo/Agencies]

Call for reform as sorrow and anger mark funeral of victim Tyre Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — When US Vice-President Kamala Harris was called to the pulpit at the funeral for Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old African American whose fatal beating by police shocked the nation and triggered urgent calls for reform, she said the White House would settle for nothing less than ambitious federal legislation to crack down on police brutality.

"We should not delay, and we will not be denied," Harris said to applause in Memphis. "It is nonnegotiable."

However, in Washington progress appears difficult to achieve and even unlikely. Bipartisan efforts to reach an agreement on policing legislation stalled more than a year ago, and President Joe Biden ended up instead signing an executive order named after George Floyd, whose murder at the hands of Minneapolis police set off nationwide protests nearly three years ago.

Now, with a new killing in the headlines, Biden and Harris were to meet members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday to explore whether it is possible to get legislation back on track.

The White House faces fresh pressure to advance the issue, and even some political allies of Biden are frustrated with what they view as excess caution on his part.

"I think the president is missing the opportunity to be a historic president when it comes to the social issues that continue to plague our country," said Representative Jamaal Bowman. "That's what we need."

Bowman described Biden as "a champion of the status quo in many ways", and said the president needs to be "a champion of a new vision for America".

The solution, Bowman said, is not "thoughts and prayers, come to the State of the Union after your kid gets killed", a reference to Nichols' mother and stepfather being invited to attend next week's speech.

Civil rights leaders, family and friends gathered in the Memphis church on Wednesday to bid farewell to Nichols.

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