IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Road to Reform TRANSCRIPT: 6/26/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Karen Bass, Val Demings, Hakeem Jeffries

  JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, and welcome. I`m Joy Reid.

"I can`t breathe" -- it`s been a month since those last words from George Floyd. And his death, after eight minutes and 46 seconds in a police choke hold, took the movement for police reform and made it global.

And now these voices have reached the halls of Congress.










UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS:  I can`t breathe! I can`t breathe!

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER:  How many more? When I saw him on the ground, I was trying to breathe for him.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER:  When I heard about Breonna, and how they stormed her house without any warning, really, and no cause, I just thought it was ridiculous.



UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS:  Breonna Taylor! Breonna Taylor!

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER:  It really wasn`t a problem, then we wouldn`t have all the different races coming together, because that really speaks volume. That really shows something.





UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER:  We`re the youth of America. We`re the ones supposed to be doing all of these things that have been happening. So, it`s like, I feel like it`s...

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER:  We`re not going to stop until something changes.


REID:  This moment of reckoning over racial injustice and police brutality has brought millions to the streets in all 50 states and around the world.

Seeing George Floyd`s torment at the hands of Minneapolis police officers unfold on video unleashed a national torrent of revulsion, even as the country remains very much in the grips of a deadly pandemic.

But the righteous anger that you have seen is just the culmination of decades of anguish about black lives taken by police, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, and an unconscionably long list of so many others.

Exactly one month after George Floyd`s murder, and weeks after the police involved were criminally charged, the House of Representatives passed the Justice in Policing Act, named in his honor, a sweeping reform bill that addresses systemic racism and police brutality, and includes a ban on choke holds and no-knock warrants.

But hopes for national reform to become law now rest in the United States Senate and in the hands of Mitch McConnell, who has already declared the House bill dead on arrival, a rejection of a movement that has the support of millions in the streets and a majority of the American people.

Over the next hour, we`re going to be answering your questions about what can be done on "The Road to Reform."

And with me for the hour are three members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chairwoman Karen Bass of California, Congressman Val Demings of Florida, and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who is also the chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

Thank you all for being here.

And I want to give you each a chance to react to just sort of what this moment means, including the speed with which we have seen legislation happen.

Eric Garner said, "I can`t breathe." We didn`t see legislation happen. The Breonna Taylor case, so many others have happened.

And we -- and so I guess the question for a lot of people is, why now?

But, as you answer that question -- and Chairwoman Bass, I want to go to you on this first -- can you answer to the fact that most Americans agree that there is a systemic problem that needs to be faced, but there are particular Americans who do not agree, do not agree that there`s a systemic problem?

One of them is the attorney general of the United States. And I want you, as you just sort of talk about what this moment means, also answer to what you hear William Barr saying here. Please listen.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE:  I think the media is ignoring the fact that 8,000 African-Americans are killed by crime in high-crime areas, and 10 were killed last year by police, six of whom were under attack when they shot.

So, you have to put it in perspective. And that`s why I think it is wrong to demonize all the police and all the police departments as systemically racist and going out and looking to shoot unarmed black men.


REID:  What do you make of that? He black-on-black-crimed it.


REID:  He completely dismissed the entire movement.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA):  Well, I think that`s very typical.

But we do have to remember that the attorney general really is serving as the president`s personal attorney. And so he`s just mirroring the president`s dog whistles.

But I think that that is something that always happened in the past, to raise the flag -- the fact that there`s black-on-black crime, and to ignore the fact that people in communities have been addressing that for years.

Now, they have lacked resources. They need more resources. But it`s as though it has been ignored.

But I think that the murder of George Floyd was so egregious. Everybody watched his execution take place over eight minutes, and he clearly was doing nothing. He was handcuffed. He was down on the ground. And it was just not up for dispute.

And I think that is what has led to this seismic shift in the debate. One of the things that I was so, you know, excited about, when my Republican colleagues got up and spoke, no one used the argument that Barr used. That is what has happened typically, but this has been a seismic shift in the consciousness of America, because you know, in the past, the polling never reflected 70 percent of the American people who recognize that this is a profound issue that has been happening for decades, and actually generations.

So, I am excited about what is happening in the streets. And, you know, it can take Congress 30 days or 30 years to act. And because this is now an international issue, you have people around the world marching for human rights in the United States.

Because of that, we acted within 30 days. It was a great night last night. And, by the way, it was bipartisan. Several Republicans stepped up and voted on it. So, it was an exciting evening.

REID:  Well, you did have three Republicans who did cross over, Congresswoman Demings, and vote for the bill. But the vast majority still voted no.

And, while Chairwoman Bass is very generous to the Republican Party, what you have heard out of Republicans, maybe if not all speaking the way William Barr does in that offensive way, is sort of a dismissal of the process that you all have gone through in trying to answer this moment.

I want to let you listen to Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and the way he has reacted to this moment, he, of course, having put forward a bill that didn`t have any of the teeth that are in the House bill.

Take a Listen.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC):  What actually happened was that the Democrats did not believe that we would produce a quality product.

Once we produced it, and then the president, to put the icing on the cake, came up with an executive order that even the liberal commentators said this was a real, meaningful executive order, I think they took a leap back, because they don`t want this president to have a victory on another serious issue confronting the minority communities.

This is pure, pure race politics at its worst.


REID:  What do you make of that, Congresswoman Demings, particularly since you also served on the impeachment -- you served on the panel of those who impeached this president? And so you know very much where he stands on the issues of law and order.

But what do you make of Tim Scott`s defense of him and the Republicans?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL):  Well, Joy, it`s great to be with you.

And, look, I don`t see how Tim Scott can even begin to try to defend this president.

A person has died. George Floyd lost his life in a very brutal way, and people from around the world watched it. And Tim Scott has chosen to focus on the president or make this about President Trump.

This moment has absolutely nothing to do with President Trump. We certainly would not be looking to this president to help right the wrongs that have gone on for decades in this country.

We know that the Republican bill that was proposed is -- they couldn`t possibly be serious. We know that the executive order put forth by the president was absolutely worse than the legislation from the Republicans.

And so I am really glad to see the Justice in Policing Act move forward. We have talked about the energy on the ground and around the world, quite frankly, and all 50 states. And we`re going to do everything that we can to make sure that our bill doesn`t just pass the House, but that it will get the attention that it deserves in the Senate.

REID:  And, Congressman Jeffries, how do you make that happen?

It doesn`t appear that Mitch McConnell is open to the bill that`s been passed. And it`s a pretty comprehensive bill, I mean, bans choke holds, bans -- limits no-knock warrants, addresses the issues of whether or not police should have complete qualified immunity.

Those are the things that people are asking for in the streets. It was overwhelmingly passed in the House.

Where does this bill go from here, in your view?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY):  Well, first of all, good evening, Joy.

It`s great to been on with you and, of course, with Chairwoman Karen Bass and Val Demings. A lot of black girl magic going on right now.


JEFFRIES:  I`m just honored to be a part of it and so thankful for their leadership and for you convening us all to have this town hall meeting.

From my standpoint, there is a national problem of police violence, police brutality, and the police use of excessive force.

That`s why it requires a national solution, not a piecemeal approach, which is what Senator Scott seems to want to do by trying to incentivize this department in one area or that department in another area, but not necessarily mandate things across the board, such as a national use of force standard that emphasizes de-escalation tactics in the first instance and the use of deadly force only as a matter of last resort, or a national database on misconduct, or a national ban on choke holds, or other types of strangulation tactics, such as a knee to the neck that resulted in the murder of George Floyd.

We believe that the circumstances clearly require a comprehensive, transformational national response. And that is what the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is all about.

Abraham Lincoln, of course, once famously said that public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.

We know that public sentiment is clearly on the side of police reform, not just within the black community, though we love the fact, we`re honored by the fact that this movement is being led by young African-American women and young African-American men.

But it`s been joined by people of every race, white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American, multiracial, multigenerational, multicultural. And we think that, ultimately, that will force the Senate`s hand.

REID:  And Donald Trump, I won`t even play back the sound, but he dismissed the concerns that people have about stop and frisk. He praised Rudy Giuliani for initiating it. He praised Bloomberg for it and said the only problem was that he got rid of it.

And, Hakeem Jeffries, I will stay with you just for a moment. Congressman.

Is this something that you have personally experienced? What do you make of -- how far down do we need to change this? Do police need to be, at the federal level, banned from doing things like stop and frisk?

JEFFRIES:  Well, the Justice in Policing Act does include a ban on racial profiling which would be comprehensive.

And, of course, as you know, Joy, the problem with stop and frisk was that it was disproportionately deployed in black and Latino neighborhoods in ways that the statistics did not justify. And the overwhelming majority of people who were stopped, questioned and frisked did nothing wrong, by the New York Police Department`s own admission. And so that`s part of the reason why we need a national solution here.

And, as it relates to stop and frisk and all types of police tactics, I think all of us, as African-American men and women, boys and girls, have experienced a variety of police encounters that make this personal.

I have been stopped in high school. I have been stopped in college. I have been stopped in law school. I have been stopped as a lawyer. I have been stopped as a state legislator. I have been stopped as a member of Congress.

And I know, from that conversation that my father had with me decades ago, that any one of those encounters could turn deadly, not because of any criminal conduct, but because of the color of my skin and the perceived threat that that could represent, as it did with 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

I think the fact that all of us have been sharing those personal experiences to channel the pain that exists within the African-American community and beyond has been an important part of why we were able to come together in such a phenomenal and bipartisan way with respect to the legislation that was passed yesterday.

REID:  All right, well, we`re going to hold all of you for the full hour.

Our special town hall "The Road to Reform" continues in just a moment.

And up next, former NBA star Stephen Jackson on the George Floyd that he knew for more than two decades and what this moment means in the fight for equal protection under the law.

And we received some amazing, amazing questions from people all over the country. Some of them were incredibly moving. Others were quite unexpected.

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hello. My name is Aidan Neal (ph). I am 13 years old and live in New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My name is James. I`m from Austin. And I come from a family of white supremacists.


REID:  We will get to their questions and many more after this quick break.

Stay right there.


REID:  Welcome back. 

Stephen Jackson played 14 years in the NBA, winning a championship in 2003 with the San Antonio Spurs.  He was also a very close friend of George Floyd for more than two decades. 

And Stephen Jackson joins us now.

And Stephen I -- I wonder if you could tell us what you think your friend George would think about these seismic change, the huge change in terms of police reform that`s been created really because of him?

STEPHEN JACKSON, RETIRED NBA BASKETBALL PLAYER:  He would be proud.  He would be happy just like he seen 18 countries and all 50 states stood for him.  That`s -- that`s the guy he was.  He -- he stood up love.  He -- it just sucks that a guy that showed so much love had to die from somebody showing so much hate. 

This guy wanted to be a protector, provider for everyone and his -- his heart was pure as gold.  I seen myself down there because we look so much a like when he was getting murdered.  But my brother was a -- was a -- was a beautiful soul.  Somebody I`m definitely going to miss.

REID:  Yes.  You -- you -- I can see the resemblance now that you guys are together.  Tell us one thing that you think the world needs to know about George?

JACKSON:  That he was a typical black man.  Born in a situation where the odds are against you.  The area you live in you have to figure it out with a single mom and you make mistakes.  And -- and people hold your mistakes against you regardless of your heard, regardless of your passion to do right and get your life right which he was doing.  The reason why he was in Minnesota -- and actually what a lot of people don`t know is I`ve talked to people, the day he died, he actually had just had two job interviews. 

So his whole mission for going to Minnesota was to change his life.  So he -- he -- he was somebody that -- that supported me genuinely.  Somebody that, you know, when you have so much success in sports a lot of people want to be around you for the wrong reason.  He really wanted to genuinely see me win, and I don`t get that much being successful (ph) and I`m going to miss him just because of that.

REID:  Yes.  That you guys called yourself twins, which is -- it`s really touching, and I`m really glad that you are here tonight. 

I want to go to a viewer question.  We have a question here from Rebecca Johnson (ph).  Let`s take a listen.


QUESTION:  Hi, my name is Rebecca (ph) from Virginia.  As everyone`s aware we have lost yet another black man, Rayshard Brooks.

In that situation, what would have been the problem with letting the man go and issuing a warrant for his arrest after the fact?  The officers had his car and his license plate.  Mr. Brooks had no weapon or posed an immediate public safety threat.  Thank you.


REID:  Let me throw that one to you Congresswoman Demings as a former police officer.  Why couldn`t police just -- they had his car.  Why -- are police trained that they have to pursue a -- a -- a suspect, a person in the moment when they could have easily just followed up later?  They had his car.

DEMINGS:  Well Joy, one of the greatest tools that police officers have is their discretion, and that is a -- is an excellent question.  I asked the same question too as someone who has 27 years of law enforcement experience and had the honor of serving as the chief of police.  They knew who he was.  They had his car.  They had all of his information.  They could have arrested him later. 

They could have found him later.  He did not pose a clear and present danger, a threat to anyone.  I believe it was a call about him sleeping and there was a -- he was suspected to be under the influence.  But he did not pose a threat or a danger to anyone.  There was really no reason why the officers could not have utilized that discretion and simply arrested him later.

REID:  And can I ask you, and this would regard the George Floyd situation as well as the Rayshard Brooks situation, Congresswoman.  Are police officers trained in deescalating their own mood?  Meaning that if they`re angry that a person is talking back to them or they`re angry that a person is running away, is -- is there any training that says, well -- that doesn`t mean you have an excuse to kick someone or to shoot someone or to act out against them just because you`re angry.  Is that even a part training right now?

DEMINGS:  Joy, you know, really the best defense against that is to have better hiring standards.  So we`ll try to have -- hire people who have the right temperament to do the job. 

However, a police officer is trained to not be able to have their peace breached, if you will.  That they`re not supposed to respond when people say certain things or do certain things.  You`re supposed to be above that and exercise your duties within the, you know, what the law allows. 

And so we know that officers -- look, they`re human.  They go to work with a lot of the same problems everybody else does.  But they are supposed to respond as the law and their training allows them. 

Now de-escalation training is something that law enforcement agencies did not do years ago, but they`ve gotten a lot smarter and wiser.  And de- escalation training is something that is a regular part of training in a lot of agencies but not all of them.  And that`s why I`m glad in the Justice in Policing Act that it is a part of the training that is being proposed for all law enforcement officers or agencies, whether you`re a 10 person agency or a 36,000 person agency. 

REID:  Sure.  Let`s get another question in from our viewers, and this is regarding the officers who were recently fired in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Pretty disturbing situation.


QUESTION:  Hi, I`m Annette (ph) from Wilmington, North Carolina. 

Earlier this week, three Wilmington, North Carolina police officers were fired when they were caught on police body cameras talking about a civil war is coming and how they are ready.  One of the officers also said he`s going to buy a new assault rifle and go out and start slaughtering black people. 

How can police officers that are sworn to protect and serve be allowed on the police force with these racist attitudes and calls for civil war?  Thank you.


REID:  I`m -- I`m going to give that one to you, Congresswoman Karen Bass.

BASS:  Well, first of all, let me just say that it`s a real honor and a pleasure to serve with Representative Demings and Representative Jeffries because they bring different perspectives, and I`ve learned a lot from Representative Demings specifically in terms of policing and the mindset. 

And I know that this is not the mindset that our police are trained in, but you know, one of the real fundamental problems that we face in our country is that when police come to our communities, they come in as warriors.  When they go to the other side -- and in my district, I have one side of my district that`s primarily white and very affluent and another side is South Central Los Angeles. When they go to the West side, they go there to protect and serve. 

I`ve talked to many police officers even in leadership positions who will tell me that when police officers come out of the academy, there`s some that ask to go to South Central Los Angeles so they can kick butt.  They want to go there first so they can earn their stripes, and then they go off to a quote, unquote, "Better community" to serve. 

What you heard from those officers is deeply, deeply troubling.  It`s frightening, and it should be no surprise then that you have a disproportionate impact in terms of people that are murdered that are African-American. 

But what has happened in this time period since George Floyd -- because we`ve been fighting these issues for generations.  But I think finally the American people can hear and believe that policing is different in our communities, not from every police officer, but there`s some police officers that come in with very hostile attitudes towards black communities, and like this one who wants to go in and essentially kill black people -- this is now, I think, the veil has been lifted off of that and people are not questioning them in the same way. 

Before when there was somebody killed on videotape, people would say, well we don`t really know what happened before the tape.  And we don`t really know what this person did.  So I think this is an example of why we`re in a new period in our thinking in this country. 

REID:  Yes.  We certainly are, and I want to thank you all.  I`m going to keep all of our members of Congress, but I want to very much thank Stephen Jackson for being with us.  Really, really appreciate Stephen being a part of this broadcast. 

And still ahead, our panel will be answering more of your questions on racial justice, including questions about defunding the police and whether that really means they won`t show up when you call. 

Our virtual town hall continues next.  Stay with us. 


REID:  And we are back with Congresswoman Karen Bass of California, Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

All right. Let`s go to another question from the audience.


QUESTION:  I`m George Anne (ph) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Defund the police just sounds frightening. It sounds like no one`s going to come when I call 911, when I`m in danger, or if someone is breaking into my home.

How can a message of reevaluating funding priorities be better packaged?


REID:  Congressman Jeffries, how do you understand defund the police as a - - as an idea? And is it addressed in the bill?

JEFFRIES:  Well, there`s nothing within the bill that deals with defunding the police, because that, of course, is a decision that has to be made at the state and local level.

But funding priorities are important conversations that every single community should be having, because there are certain jobs that the police are called upon to do that would be better performed by social workers, or by violence interrupters who`ve got authenticity and credibility within the community, or by substance abuse counselors who may know how to approach someone in a context of alleged public intoxication.

So, those are discussions that should be happening and are occurring in communities all across the country, and in New York City right now. That is the right thing to do.

I was troubled a few months ago prior this moment of reckoning on the question of race when city hall proposed that they were going to hold the NYPD budget harmless at $6 billion and totally eliminate summer youth employment.

Those are funding priorities that have to be totally re-evaluated in the context of the moment that we are in if we`re going to truly promote, you know, the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that is supposed to be available to every single American, in every single zip code.

REID:  Let`s ask -- let`s hear another question, and this one is I believe on qualified immunity. Let`s -- take a listen.


QUESTION:  Hello. My name is Deborah Roden (ph). I`m from Largo, Florida. I have a question concerning the qualified immunity portion of the bill.

I have two sons that are police officers. They work for a nationally accredited police department, and they each have four-year degrees in criminal justice. They have concerns, as do I as their mother, that this could open up the door for potential frivolous lawsuits against police officers.

They both have young families, preschool age children in their own homes. So if you could explain further how this will be enforced, I would appreciate it. Thank you very much.


REID:  We`ll give that to you -- we`ll give that to you, Congresswoman Demings. How would it work if you alter the immunity that allows police officers to operate without fear of lawsuits?

DEMINGS:  Well, thank you so much for that question. And let me say this, we know that police officers have a duty to act. When they are called to a disturbance or a fight or something, they cannot make the decision that they`re not going to go and, you know, be concerned that they might get in trouble, so they`re not going to respond. They do have a duty to act.

However, qualified immunity deals with actions that, number one, have to be within the scope of their duties, but number two, in order to -- for the officer to not be covered by qualified immunity, the plaintiff has to show that the officer violated clearly established law.

And this is the difficult part --- and then point to a case that is already -- has already been decided with similar circumstances. Now, so I can tell you that is near impossible. And that`s what really makes it extremely difficult to hold officers that have been reckless in their behavior accountable, to find a case where -- with almost the exact same circumstances that has already been decided in law is near impossible.

So there does --

REID:  Right.

DEMINGS:  -- I believe there does need to be modifications in that area.

REID:  And let`s go to another question. And this is one is -- great -- this is from a young viewer who had a question.

Take a listen.


QUESTION:  Hello. My name is Aidan Neal (ph). I am 13 years old and live in New Jersey.

My parents and older siblings have taught me about the role of race in American history. My question is besides posting on social media and attending rallies and peaceful protests, what can we do as individuals to further the cause of racial equality and social justice?

Thank you.


REID:  Aidan (ph) is 13, and that question is going to you, Chairwoman Bass.

BASS:  Well, first of all, Aidan (ph), thank you for your question, and I`m glad that you`re thinking about these issues at your age. I want you to know that I first got involved when I was your age, and so you are never too young to become active.

And one of the first things that you can do is learn a lot about U.S. history. You can learn a lot about U.S. history, and you can become active in your school and make sure that you`re getting a quality education and make sure that the history of all peoples are taught in your school, because sometimes the history of African-Americans and other people`s of color are not included very well in our history books.

And I believe that one of the things that we suffer from in our country is we don`t know a lot about our history. We tend to only like the good stories. So learn as much as you can about U.S. history. Get very good grades.

But you can be a student activist. I started when I was in middle school and you can start, too. You can run for city -- you can run for student council. You can run city council in few years too. But you can run for student council. You can get involved.

If you see issues that are happening with your students -- because one thing that happens in schools, is there`s a lot of black kids, boys and girls, that get suspended and expelled from school. You can see if that`s happening on your campus. You can find out why.

You can go to the parent-teacher association if you`re having those kind of problems, and you can say, this is a problem in our school. We need to address it. Too many kids are being suspended.

You can find out whether or not the kids are being stopped in your communities.

So, there`s a lot you can do.

So, being 13, you don`t have to wait until you get older. You can get active right now. You can fight on behalf of social justice and racial justice right now as a 13-year-old.

REID:  All right. Aidan (ph), I suspect, will do very well.

We have another question, and this is one I think everybody had their eyebrows raised by next question about the culture of policing. Take a listen.


QUESTION:  My name is James (ph), I`m from Austin. And I come from a family of white supremacists. I argued for decades against their atrocious attitudes and never made a dent.

I`m now estranged from them and a proud godfather to a black family. They`re (ph) children of my best friends.

And I was wondering if I can`t change the attitudes of the culture of the people in my own family, how can we hope to change the culture of the police? Thank you.


REID:  Congresswoman Demings, as somebody who has served as a police chief of a very large police organization, how difficult is it for, you know, for sergeants, for chiefs to rid their offices of people with the kind of attitudes that this man`s family has that we saw in North Carolina?

DEMINGS:  Well, let me say, again, the best deterrence against that is to try to hire people, the brightest and the best, people, in the first place, who don`t have those attitudes. And that`s why it`s so important that we take a look at as the federal government at trying to develop some hiring standards that will help to professionalize, if you will, the profession.

But, Joy, you`re absolutely right. I mean, it`s challenging. Sometimes police chiefs and sheriffs do not have the authority because of something called the Officer Bill of Rights, to really hold police accountable as they sometimes deserve to be held. I think it`s important to remember the overwhelming majority of officers are good, decent people. But they all are not.

And so, I believe this is a moment for us to be able to sit down with police chiefs, sheriffs, unions and others to look at better ways to hold officers accountable.

Look, the good police officers want us to be able to do that. But in order to do it, we got to change the laws, because the existing laws do not give chiefs and sheriffs the authority that they need at this time.

REID:  All right. We`ve had great questions from our viewers, an excellent discussion on some very important topics.

And when we come back, the power of police unions. We`ll be right back after this short break.


  REID:  Welcome back.

One of the issues that`s come through in this debate about police reform is the power and influence of police unions.

We asked one of the leading voices in the movement to kick off this conversation.


BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  I`m Brittany Packnett Cunningham. I am an activist and an educator and an MSNBC contributor.

And I have a question about police unions. Look, I am a former union educator and believe deeply in the importance of collective bargaining in a free society.

But I found out that police unions behave much more like the NRA, standing in the way of true justice and accountability, than they do your average teachers union.

So, here`s my question. In places like Minneapolis and so many other police union contracts around the country, we know that officers that are fired for misconduct and for killing someone can be reinstated and receive back pay through a private arbitration process.

What are you going to do to make sure that, as laws change and as progress is made around the country, that police unions don`t simply come behind all that hard work and undermine it and undo it?


REID:  I`m going to throw that one to you, Congressman Jeffries.

JEFFRIES:  Well, thank you for that question. And thank you for the advocacy.

And it is undeniable that police unions have been an obstacle toward change and progress and transformation. The majority of police officers that I interact with on a day-to-day basis back at home in Brooklyn, I find to be hardworking individuals who are in the community to protect and serve.

But we cannot deny that there are violent officers, abusive officers, brutal officers who cross the line. And far too often, they are never held accountable.

And one of the reasons why accountability doesn`t occur is because of the police union, which, in many instances, notwithstanding the most egregious set of facts, defends the behavior of that officer.

That`s one of the reasons why we have got stronger accountability measures in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, so we can hopefully change behavior, and, if that behavior does not change in certain instances, there will be serious consequences to pay, both on the criminal side and on the civil side, which is why we are ending qualified immunity.

There is some reason to believe, however, that, even at the national level, the attitudes of some of the police organizations are changing in this moment.

The Fraternal Order of Police, with great leadership from Karen Bass and Chairman Nadler and Speaker Pelosi, who were in conversation as this legislation was developed with stakeholders across the spectrum, took a neutral position on the bill that we just passed. They did not oppose it.

That`s progress. And that same Fraternal Order of Police worked with all of us, Val, Karen, myself, Cedric Richmond, many of us, on the FIRST STEP Act, which, Joy, of course, as you know, was historic criminal justice reform that we were able to get over the finish line in 2018.

And so it may be the case that what we`re seeing in America is a seismic change. But we`re going to have to make sure, at the local level, in some of these contract negotiations, that mayors and county executives and others are held accountable for the type of contracts that they are negotiating with these police unions.


We have another question that is somewhat related. And this is about what can happen with police officers who have been terminated. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi. My name is Naj (ph). I`m from Massachusetts.

And my question to the panel is, would you support taking away an officer`s pension upon termination, or using an officer`s pension to pay for the lawsuits filed against them?


REID:  And I will send this one again to you, Congresswoman Demings, because you have been in the position of both being an officer and also being a mayor, and having to deal with the budgetary issues that happen when settlements have to be paid.

And in a lot of these municipalities, cities are paying huge settlements because of police misconduct.

Do you believe that officers` pensions should be -- have that amount deducted when they commit crimes?

DEMINGS:  Joy, what I can tell you, you`re absolutely correct. I have been in that position before. And we have denied officers their pensions who were engaged in gross misconduct. I fully support that.

And I can tell you what. As we have talked about, the overwhelming majority police officers are good, decent people. They support it as well. We have seen unions support it.

But I have been involved in that situation. And, yes, I believe that officers engaged in gross misconduct should have their pensions terminated. And we have done it.

REID:  All right, let`s go to another question.


A.J. AWED, MINNEAPOLIS WARD 6 COUNCIL MEMBER CANDIDATE:  My name is A.J. Awed, a candidate for the upcoming special election in Ward 6, South Minneapolis, the epicenter which triggered this very important conversation.

My question to the Congressional Black Caucus is, do you agree with the notion that our American policing system needs to be dismantled and abolished? And, if so, what tangible federal legislation will you pursue in order to ensure transformation, not reform, of our American policing system?

Thank you.


REID:  And, Chairwoman, Chairwoman Bass, I will throw this one to you, because there is a significant portion of the movement that goes beyond the idea of defunding, to the idea of really scrapping the current system and starting over.

What do you make of that?

BASS:  Well, I absolutely believe that the current system needs to be transformed.

And that was what we are doing in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The measures that we call for are transformational.

And the question that you asked about -- Representative Demings about the pension, do you know that the officer that executed George Floyd had -- will be eligible for a million dollars in back pension? And he should absolutely not get that.

The question that was asked earlier about the racist police officers that wanted to execute black people, they should be terminated. We have -- we are calling for a national registry where, if you terminate somebody, then they can`t just go to another police department and get hired. That`s the reason why Tamir Rice was killed.

So, the measures that we are calling for in the bill is transformative. I do think that there are instances -- in my region, for example, Compton, California, they got rid of their police department because it was riddled with corruption and abuse, but they brought in another department.

So, the idea of abolishing police completely -- and maybe that`s what they will do in Minneapolis too, because I know that they`re talking about that. But that doesn`t necessarily mean that then no law enforcement comes in at all. It means that they look for another department to come in.

But I do believe that we have to look at what we have done over the years of divesting in communities. And, instead of defund, I would say we need to re-fund communities in terms of the services and all that are needed.

Police officers should not have to deal with mental illness, with substance abuse, with marital problems. So, we really do need to take a look at these issues in society at the federal level, and we need to put resources back in our communities.

REID:  All right, we`re going to take a quick break here, but we do have a lot more to talk about with our guests.

So, stay with us. We will be right back after the quick break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hello. My name is Malik Daniels (ph).

My question is for Representative Demings.

Representative Demings, as a potential vice presidential candidate, how would you bridge the divide or work with the Black Lives Matter movement? What are three specific things you would do to reach out to the movement and its supporters, in light of their stance on defunding the police?

Thank you.


REID:  All right, welcome back.

And, Congresswoman Demings, how do you answer that, three things you would do to work with Black Lives Matter?

DEMINGS:  Well, Malik, thank you so much for that question.

And I think most people know that, before I became a law enforcement officer, I served as a social worker. And so I have been working closely on the ground with the community for a long time to solve some of our toughest problems.

And when I became a police officer, I -- and when I first was appointed chief, crime was at an all-time high, violent crime. But I realized quickly that we could not arrest our way out of those problems, that we also had to invest in some of the social ills that cause decay in communities in the first place.

I would love to create advisory boards, including members from the movement, that could help us look at some of the other social -- of course, police misconduct, but substandard housing, substandard education, substandard lending, other areas where we frequently see discrimination and racism within our community.

I believe their voices are so important, and they need to be heard. We have an opportunity to appoint a lot of people to different boards. We need their voices. I would look forward to regular meetings to make sure that the policies that we are moving forward are not just our policies, but the policies of the people.

And we know the voices of Black Lives Matter are critical voices.

Thank you.

REID:  And we are blessed that we have two people who are being vetted, potentially, to run with Joe -- Vice President -- former Vice President Joe Biden.

So, I will ask the same question of you, Congresswoman Bass.

BASS:  Oh, well, first of all, I have worked with Black Lives Matter from the beginning.

The three women that founded Black Lives Matter, I talk to frequently, work with. As a matter of fact, what we`re doing right now is planning a briefing with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a briefing on Justice in Policing Act. And we had Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors, the -- two of the original founders of Black Lives Matter.

In Los Angeles, Melina Abdullah is somebody I have known for more than 20, 25 years. She`s one of the leaders of Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles. She`s on my People`s Council, which is an advisory council I have in my congressional office.

They are activists fighting for the same change I fought for 47 years ago, when I was a member of the Coalition Against Police Abuse. So, these are issues I have worked on for years. I`m an elder to that group now, and honored to be so, and work with them.

And what I am hoping is that they keep protesting peacefully every day until we get a bill on the president`s desk.

REID:  Yes. Indeed. Indeed.

Well, I want to thank all of our guests, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congressman -- Congresswoman Val Demings, and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who he may not be on the veep list right now, but, four years from now, he may be running for president. We just don`t know.


REID:  Also, thank you all to all of our viewers who submitted questions.

BASS:  I like that.

REID:  Please don`t go anywhere.