June 04, 2020

Harris Demands Judiciary Committee Investigate Barr’s Involvement in Crackdown on Peaceful Protesters

Failure to address bias, police brutality “will not only dishonor the body that we serve, but it will dishonor the very memory of those we should be naming today.”

Full Video of Harris’ Remarks 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Thursday called out Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for prioritizing a politically motivated hearing while ignoring the racism epidemic facing our nation. Harris expressed disappointment in the committee’s failure to recognize the pain and suffering of the Black community and the urgent need to address the issue of police brutality. Harris offered an amendment to require an investigation into Attorney General William Barr after reports stated he ordered the forcible removal of peaceful protesters in front of the White House to facilitate a political photo opportunity for President Trump.

Key Excerpts:

  • America is raw right now. If this committee is to think of its relevance at this moment, I would dare say the conversation we are having today is irrelevant to what is happening on the streets of America today. We are looking at people in pain. People by the thousands of every race, age, and geographic location, shouting for justice in America. Yet this committee doth protest too much, as Shakespeare might say, on an issue that is not relevant to the people and the pain that America is feeling today.
  • The wounds that we are feeling are deepened by a President who fanned the flames of hurt and pain. Civil rights and matters involving law enforcement are this committee’s responsibility. This committee alone.
  • This committee meeting today sends a message to millions of Americans that have taken to the streets to protest this violence that this Judiciary Committee doesn’t care.
  • This committee has a duty to confront these issues Mr. Chairman, and an obligation to address the pain people are feeling, the suffering they feel. And by shying away from this responsibility, this committee will not only dishonor the body that we serve, but it will dishonor the very memory of those we should be naming today.
  • Mr. Chairman, I have in particular an amendment offered by myself and Senator Booker. And it relates to the fact that on Monday, peaceful demonstrators were gathered in front of the White House to protest the murder of George Floyd. They were violently forced out by federal law enforcement. Shortly thereafter, it was reported that Attorney General Barr personally ordered their forcible removal. And obviously, the protections of civil rights and liberties falls squarely within the responsibility and the jurisdiction of this committee. And so I'm offering an amendment that this committee not issue any subpoenas under authority of this motion until this committee has conducted a thorough investigation and held a hearing to examine the conduct of Attorney General Barr on June 1, 2020, when he reportedly ordered federal law enforcement personnel to remove peaceful protesters who were engaged in constitutionally protected activity.

A full transcript of Harris’ remarks can be found below:

Thank you Mr. Chairman. The Judiciary Committee has as one of its very important responsibilities to concern itself with the system of justice in America. Well today a man by the name of George Floyd will be honored, his memory will be honored at a funeral. He died because the knee of a police officer was on his neck for over 8 minutes while he pled for his life, called for his late mother, and said he can’t breathe.

America is raw right now. If this committee is to think of its relevance at this moment, I would dare say the conversation we are having today is irrelevant to what is happening on the streets of America today. We are looking at people in pain. People by the thousands of every race, age, and geographic location, shouting for justice in America. Yet this committee doth protest too much, as Shakespeare might say, on an issue that is not relevant to the people and the pain that America is feeling today.

The wounds that we are feeling are deepened by a President who fanned the flames of hurt and pain. Civil rights and matters involving law enforcement are this committee’s responsibility. This committee alone.

And instead of engaging in political partisan games on behalf of this President, what the American people need this committee to do is to be relevant to why they are shouting and marching and crying in the streets of our country.

They need us to address the real issue of police brutality and implicit bias within law enforcement.

They need us to address Donald Trump and Attorney General Barr’s assault on our citizens’ constitutional rights of free expression and peaceable assembly.

They need us to address the disbelief that former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis expressed in seeing our nation’s troops being ordered to “violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.”

They need us to talk about the lives that have been taken from us - George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and so many more.

This committee meeting today sends a message to millions of Americans that have taken to the streets to protest this violence that this Judiciary Committee doesn’t care.

This committee has a duty to confront these issues, Mr. Chairman, and an obligation to address the pain people are feeling, the suffering they feel. And by shying away from this responsibility, this committee will not only dishonor the body that we serve, but it will dishonor the very memory of those we should be naming today.

And Mr. Chairman, I have in particular an amendment offered by myself and Senator Booker. And it relates to the fact that on Monday, peaceful demonstrators were gathered in front of the White House to protest the murder of George Floyd. They were violently forced out by federal law enforcement. Shortly thereafter, it was reported that Attorney General Barr personally ordered their forcible removal. And obviously, the protections of civil rights and liberties falls squarely within the responsibility and the jurisdiction of this committee. And so I'm offering an amendment that this committee not issue any subpoenas under authority of this motion until this committee has conducted a thorough investigation and held a hearing to examine the conduct of Attorney General Barr on June 1, 2020, when he reportedly ordered federal law enforcement personnel to remove peaceful protesters who were engaged in constitutionally protected activity.

###