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Amid National Reckoning on Police Brutality, Omar Reintroduces Bold Reform Bills

"History shows that the criminal justice system is not equipped to prosecute itself."

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) looks on during a press conference at a memorial site for Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 20, 2021. (Photo: KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) looks on during a press conference at a memorial site for Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 20, 2021. (Photo: KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Ilhan Omar reintroduced a package of three police reform bills on Wednesday—legislation that aims to curtail systemic police brutality in the United States and abroad.

"We're in the midst of a national reckoning that recognizes our history of systematic racism and we need to have systemwide reforms," Omar (D-Minn.) said in an interview with CNN. "History shows that the criminal justice system is not equipped to prosecute itself."

"It's clear we need systemwide reform to transform our criminal justice to protect all of us."
—Rep. Ilhan Omar

The first bill—the National Police Misuse of Force Investigation Board Act (pdf)—would establish a federal agency responsible for investigating all nationwide deaths occurring in police custody, officer-involved shootings, and uses of force that result in severe bodily injury. The agency would conduct impartial, independent investigations and determine accountability and reform measures to prevent any further violence. The board would consist of eight members appointed by the president and at the advice and consent of the Senate.

"Less than 2% of officers involved in fatal police shootings have faced arrest since 2005, and of those the majority were not convicted," said Omar in a statement. "We need a separate agency to investigate police use of force in an unbiased manner."

The second bill—the Protect Our Protesters Act (pdf)—would allow police officers who murder or cause bodily harm to peaceful protesters to be charged with a federal crime.

Lamenting the continued use of violence and tear gas by police units against nonviolent protesters, Omar underscored the "need for legislation that imposes direct consequences for this violence," and upholds the U.S. constitutional right to protest.

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The third piece of legislation is the Global Police Brutality Resolution (pdf), which condemns police brutality and human rights violations across the world and calls on the U.S. government to become an active agent in dismantling state violence and police impunity as well as the demilitarization of police forces at home and abroad. 

The resolution identifies the United States as the largest arms exporter in the world—including tear gas—and calls on the U.S. government to "prohibit the sales of arms, ammunition, and 'less-lethal' policing equipment to countries with demonstrated patterns of human rights violations by security forces."

The resolution also aims to prohibit the U.S. government from offering security assistance and police training in countries with records of human rights abuses.

"Highly militarized police forces, often armed and trained by the United States, have also been used to disproportionately harm vulnerable communities around the world including in Nigeria, Cameroon, Honduras, Chile, Hong Kong, Belarus, Poland, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia," Omar said.

The legislation comes as nationwide demand for police reform grows.

"It's clear we need systemwide reform to transform our criminal justice to protect all of us," Omar tweeted.

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