Pro-Trump radio host Dan Bongino urges Congress not to 'defund the police' as George Floyd's brother testifies at House hearing

Conservative pundit is a former NYPD officer and US Secret Service agent

Griffin Connolly
Wednesday 10 June 2020 17:57 BST
George Floyd's brother testifies at US Committee and asks for law enforcement to be the solution, not the problem

Radio host Dan Bongino, one of Donald Trump's favourite conservative pundits, urged Congress on Wednesday to reject policies to "defund the police" and warned them they must stop such an "abomination before someone gets hurt."

Mr Bongino is a former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent who has also unsuccessfully ran for Congress three times.

At a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on policing practices and law enforcement accountability on Wednesday, Mr Bongino told several anecdotes about police officers who were injured or killed in the line of duty and lauded the bravery of first responders during the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

"Removing these heroes from your community, in my community, will do nothing but ensure chaos and destruction," Mr Bongino said of calls by many liberal activists to abolish police departments and build new local law enforcement systems from the ground up.

The vast majority of congressional Democrats have not echoed calls to "defund the police" and have instead put forth legislation aimed at reforming existing law enforcement agencies in the US in the wake of the death of George Floyd, whose brother Philonise Floyd also testified on Wednesday. George Floyd was black; the Minneapolis police officers who were involved in his death were all white.

Among the Democratic bill’s most noteworthy reforms are provisions to:

  • Provide federal funding for racial bias training;
  • Create a national misconduct registry for officers to ensure officers with lengthy and questionable records cannot simply change departments to avoid accountability;
  • Reform “qualified immunity laws” to make it easier to prosecute police and other government agent misconduct;
  • require state and local law enforcement agencies to report use-of-force incidents to the Justice Department; and
  • Ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level, and incentivise local departments to adopt similar measures by withholding funding for those that don’t.

Senate Republicans plan to release a package of their own later this week that would provide funding for racial bias training, create a national misconduct registry, and mandate the reporting of use-of-force incidents to the feds. But Republicans have not reached a consensus on banning chokeholds or reforming qualified immunity.

Mr Bongino is not the only GOP witness at the hearing on Wednesday who has run for Congress.

Angela Underwood Jacobs — whose brother David Patrick Underwood, a black officer in the Federal Protective Service, was shot and killed in Oakland in May — also will testify on Wednesday.

Ms Underwood Jacobs ran for the GOP nomination in California's 25th District for the special election there earlier this year to replace Democratic ex-Congresswoman Katie Hill.

"He took his last breath on cold, hard cement. ... Fear [and] ignorance and blind violence snatched the life of my brother from all of us," Ms Underwood Jacobs told lawmakers in her opening statement, a condemnation of the violent — and, at times, deadly — elements that marked some of the early protests after the death of Mr Floyd.

"We will never solve injustice with looting, killing — this is greater than a black, white or blue issue. It is a humanity issue," Ms Underwood Jacobs said.

Mr Bongino, House Judiciary ranking member Jim Jordan, and Darrell Scott, a black pastor who was on Mr Trump's 2016 transition team, used their opening statements on Wednesday to rail against liberal proposals to abolish existing police departments, with Mr Jordan arguing that such an idea is "pure insanity."

Mr Trump weighed in briefly on Twitter commending Mr Jordan for his “great statement… concerning Defunding (not!) our great Police.”

While the president has sympathised with the family of Mr Floyd, he also adopted a highly militaristic tone in response to protests calling for large scale police reform.

Last week, he called for governors handling the protests at the local level to "dominate" the streets with National Guardsmen and other law enforcement units to root out any riotous elements.

The White House is also preparing to roll out its own its own set of legislative and executive policing reform proposals, NBC News has reported, though no timetable has been announced.

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