WI Congressional Delegation Has Wide Range of Responses to Nationwide Protests

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan (D) wants to examine the training standards for every police department in the nation.

By Zac Schultz | Here & Now

June 3, 2020

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U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D) Wisconsin

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan (D) wants to examine the training standards for every police department in the nation. Following a weekend of violent interactions between police and protesters, Pocan says people should be able to travel anywhere in the country and “know what training they’ve had and what to expect…but we don’t have anything close to that.”

Police interactions with the public are under scrutiny following the release of video showing a Minneapolis Police Officer kneeling on the neck of an African-American man, George Floyd, for nine minutes while Floyd pleaded that, “I can’t breathe.” Floyd later died and the officer faces murder charges.

Rep. Pocan made the remarks during a Zoom conference call with reporters Wednesday. He says it’s remarkable there is a national standard for truck drivers, but no standards for police officers. He says “it’s amazing to find out how hard it is to find all the different standards. On average it’s 12-14 weeks of police academy, but that’s not the standards everywhere.”

Rep. Pocan declined to say if he thought the training standards in cities like Madison were adequate until he’s looked at more cities.

Police have struggled to deal with the looters and vandals that remain after a peaceful protest has ended. Video from around the country has shown law enforcement officers outfitted in riot gear using pepper spray and rubber bullets on journalists and peaceful protesters. Rep. Pocan says he voted against giving military equipment to police, “Too many are used without the proper training.”

Other Democrats in Congress are calling for more sweeping police reform. Former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to end qualified immunity for police, which would make it easier to sue them for civil rights violations.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D) tweeted, “I’m happy to see so many police chiefs condemn the police officers who killed George Floyd. I hope those same chiefs will take the next step by supporting real reforms that hold officers accountable when they put aside their training and inflict brutality on those they serve. Thank you to all the law enforcement who showed grace, compassion and a way forward. Unfortunately, we saw example after example of the exact kind of unrestrained police violence that protesters were marching against.”

Rep. Ron Kind (D) tweeted, “Never again. What happened to George Floyd cannot happen in this country again. I’m proud of the peaceful demonstrations that happened across western WI over the weekend, and I support all of the peaceful protests that happened across this country demanding real change now.”

Among Wisconsin’s Republicans, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R) tweeted, “George Floyd’s murder was unconscionable, and the officers involved deserve to be held accountable. Outrage is justified, but more violence isn’t. While most protesters in NEW (northeast Wisconsin) did so peacefully, it was disheartening to see some take advantage of legitimate protests to sow chaos.

“We must remember that horrific actions by some don’t represent the actions of all. I’m incredibly grateful for our local police officers and national guardsmen and women who work tirelessly to keep those protesting — and those who aren’t — safe, especially during a pandemic.”

Rep. Bryan Steil (R) tweeted, “On this Sunday, more than ever, I am praying for an end to prejudice and abuse. And for an end to the violence.”

Rep. Tom Tiffany tweeted out a photo of a burned out bookstore in Minneapolis. “This is Uncle Hugo’s bookstore in downtown Minneapolis. Was there for fifty years. While Governor Walz was preoccupied with shutting down honest businesses, the rioters and looters shut down Hugo’s.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R) and Rep. Glenn Grothman (R) have not made any comments about George Floyd or the protests on either social media or through an official press release.

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