Jun 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barr says he's open to ban on police chokeholds

Attorney General Bill Barr said in an interview on Fox News' "Special Report" Monday that he supports banning police chokeholds — one of the reforms proposed by Democrats in Congress — except when necessary to meet "lethal force."

The big picture: Barr condemned the idea promoted by activists in the wake of George Floyd's killing of defunding police departments, calling it "dangerous" and stressing his belief that more crime will be committed if police are forced to pull back from communities.

Driving the news: A veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council signed a pledge on Sunday to begin the process of dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department as it currently exists. The council-members are seeking to replace it with a community-based public safety model — the details of which are not yet clear.

  • Barr, while acknowledging why members of the black community would view police departments as systemically racist given the "history of racial injustice" in the U.S., called the decision "the exact opposite of the way we should go."
  • "I think, in fact, over the past 50 or 60 years, we've had a lot of reform of police departments," Barr said. "I was attorney general 30 years ago and I can tell you there's a world of difference."
  • "Today, the police chiefs, the rank-and-file officers understand the need for change, and there has been great change," he continued. "And I think defunding the police, holding the entire police structure responsible for the actions of certain officers is wrong, and I think it's dangerous to demonize police."

Barr emphasized his view, which has also been expressed by President Trump and other members of his administration, that the overwhelming majority of police officers in the U.S. are good people.

  • "One of the legitimate grievances of the African-American community is that they are treated with suspicion and braced simply because they're African-Americans," Barr said. "That does happen. By the same token, peaceful demonstrators should not be treated as violent extremists simply because they're out on the streets."
  • "It's the same with police officers. Every organization has individuals engage in misconduct, and we have to be careful before we say the whole organizations is rotten."

Go deeper: Biden campaign says he does not support defunding the police

Go deeper