Urgent Warning Issued By Human Rights Group Over New Police Bill In Congress

By Josie Wales

Last week, Human Rights Watch penned an open letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees voicing their strong opposition to a new bill that would make it nearly impossible to sue police for constitutional violations. Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Representative Ted Poe (R-Tex.) proposed the identical bills on May 16th “[t]o protect law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.”

Co-Director of Human Rights Watch Alison Parker writes that H.R. 2437/S.B. 1134, or the “Back the Blue Act,” doesn’t protect police from danger, but rather “protects police departments from liability, and removes incentives for those departments to monitor themselves and improve the quality of their policing.”

The proposed bill would make significant amendments to Sections 1983 and 1988 of the U.S. Code, shielding police officers from civil liability even in cases of grievous misconduct, making new federal crimes out of offenses already covered by state laws and imposing harsh mandatory minimum sentences.

Qualified immunity already provides police with broad protection from liability by requiring proof that not only were an individual’s rights violated but whether or not a reasonable officer was aware that their misconduct violated the plaintiff’s rights. Qualified immunity has been described by experienced civil rights litigator and professor of law Alan K. Chen as “one of the most impenetrable barriers to liability for constitutional violations.” According to Professor Chen, “the Court has shaped the doctrine in ways that make it more closely resemble absolute immunity.”

Under the Back the Blue Act, if police can prove that the violation and any injuries or damages inflicted“incurred in the course of, or as a result of, or . . . related to, conduct by the injured party that, more likely than not, constituted a felony or a crime of violence . . . (including any deprivation in the course of arrest or apprehension for, or the investigation, prosecution, or adjudication of, such an offense),” the offending officer would be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses only. The law would also preclude victims from recovering attorneys’ fees.

As the letter explains:

This amendment means that if police arrest someone for selling marijuana, and beat him without justification, that person may only recover medical expenses, but nothing for emotional distress, pain and suffering or punitive damages to deter future misconduct. If a police officer unlawfully shoots and kills someone committing an act of vandalism, the police department would be liable for funeral expenses and nothing more. Such a limit on liability would make it much harder for victims of abuse to secure effective legal representation, and remove a major restraint on unjustified violence by police officers.

The new bill also imposes harsh mandatory minimum sentences under federal law for any assault on a police officer causing “bodily injury,” which is defined to include injuries as minor as a bruise, abrasion, or even the temporary feeling of physical pain. This removes the court’s discretion, preventing judges from issuing sentences proportionate to the individual circumstances of the case. In addition, the Back the Blue Act will expand the federal death penalty to include those convicted of killing police, removing certain habeas corpus protections and again limiting judicial discretion — even in states that have abolished the death penalty.

“Under the guise of protecting officers, this bill would make police less accountable, which can only undermine their legitimacy with the communities they serve,” said John Raphling, senior criminal justice researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Congress should reject this dangerous bill.”

Human Rights Watch’s observations are all the more vital considering at least 385 Americans have been killed by police this year alone, and officers around the country continue to impose constitutional violations on citizens every day.

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21 Comments on "Urgent Warning Issued By Human Rights Group Over New Police Bill In Congress"

  1. When people have no other recourse and they know it, they will kill these cops that try to violate them and rightly so. So would I.

    • paul crosley | June 1, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Reply

      That is their plan. They know that all so called “law enforcement” are outnumbered 400 to 1. This includes fed, state and local combined. Take away administrative persons and it’s even less. The most professional of them are Highway Patrol and State Police. Then sheriff dept. Most local are Barney Fife wanna- bees. The sooner there is cop killing the sooner they bring in the military and martial law.

  2. It’s almost over, people. They don’t even try to hide their contempt for us anymore.

  3. I presume that these measures will be particularly applicable in cases of civil asset forfeiture – you know, when the police steal from citizens under imaginary pretexts, and need to be shielded from lawsuits in the event. As the article implies, no worthy lawyer will take a case when the only prospect of recovery is for funeral expenses or similar chump change.

    • This is part of the “rope a dope” of using Black Lives Matter and rioting Antifi to push the good tax paying Sheeples into even More “Law&Order”. The ProgreSSive NWO controls both “sides” of the Marxist DemocRat and ChamberPot Duopoly Party in the DC Swamp.
      TINVOWOOT (there is No voting our way out of this) as the “Left” boot and “Right” boot belong to the SAME Tyranny at the upper Elitist sElected Establishment and their NWO Oligarch Masters.

      President Trump is an exception to their Rule hence All the Media Hysteria to pave the way for a future Impeachment or JFK departure……and even Trump has been decidedly inclined towards Police solutions, as a result of the Leftists’ riots during and after the Nov. election.

      Dangerous times indeed. Discernment is a very valuable commodity…… as this cannot end well, especially in light of the economic fiasco created over the past several presidencies under “different” parties.

      I do wish you well, but Mr. Jefferson’s Tree will have to be watered at some point.


  4. The brutal irony of this is that people will feel as though there is nothing left to lose, and start defending themselves against cops with greater frequency. In a world where “officer safety” is the policy, you’re going to see lots more cops shot if this bill happens. Less safety, more “street justice”. This will not end well.

    • I , being a former MPO, feel you are correct…. If there is the slightest interaction with police and an arrest is believed by the average person to be emanate, there will be more over reaction on the part of the public to protect themselves from perceived abusive officers… You’re right, this will not end well for officers… It was already assumed by the nature of the job that officers would receive bumps and bruises … That was part of the appeal, in my case… Good vs Evil…. no one can expect to go unscathed in such a battle… now to relieve officers of all personal liability will embolden officers for more abuse… The old adage “It takes one to know one”, in the realm of Police work is true…. It takes a criminal to catch a criminal… Now, they have no liabilities toward the public…. this is bad…very very bad…

    • And, if this does become law, then the average citizen will have no other recourse to receive justice except to engage in vigilantism against the very people who should have been protecting them so that this would not be needed. If that happens then law enforcement to protect citizens will degenerate into law enforcement to protect the State, and open civil war will soon follow. We really don’t need this.

  5. The 2nd amendment means nothing on this planet run by the alien/military/industrial/complex.

  6. rhondareichel | May 31, 2017 at 10:26 am | Reply

    Rotten SOB Cornyn
    no to police state

  7. Doran Zeigler | May 31, 2017 at 10:45 am | Reply

    They are hammering in the final nails of completing the AmeriKKKan Police State.
    When people have no recourse through the law, what’s next for them, armed revolution?
    They are limiting our choices, either we accept the police state or we rise up against it.

    This is a rhetorical question because it has already been shown what the public
    reaction will be. The public will react with their usual apathy, buy a six-pack and a
    bag of chips, and turn on the ball game or a soap opera.

    • rhondareichel | May 31, 2017 at 10:46 am | Reply

      with nothing to lose and no legal recourse it’s going to be law of the jungle….I’d hate to be the police

      • “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…”
        Kris Kristofferson, “Me and Bobby McGee”

      • When they take away our ability to battle it out in court, they give us no other alternative but to seek justice in the streets….

    • Yep a little road side justice find them tracking them as they have been doing to us see how they like it

  8. strawberrytart | May 31, 2017 at 11:19 am | Reply

    Are they getting ready for the Final CRACKdown?

  9. Chuck Morrison | May 31, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Reply

    If they are trying to create a backlash, and possibility of civil war, they are going about it the right way. The ‘cops can do no wrong’ idea clearly hasn’t worked out as it is. They should be going the other way, and increasing accountability.

  10. strawberrytart | June 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Reply

    When you Sue Cops, the money comes out of the Town’s Taxpayers.

  11. Where’s the petition to send to Congress opposing this?

  12. Uncle Hormone | June 1, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Reply

    I’m surprised that the Republic of Texas is even tolerating this. Look what happened to the Republic of California under similar laws…

  13. There is no “authority” anywhere in the universe that can grant immunity from ones actions. It’s an illusion created by BAR attornies/politicians to shield themselves and policy enforcers (police) from liability/responsibility for their crimes. The good news is that they were all foreclosed December 2012. See evidence here: http://i-uv.com/oppt-absolute/oppt-press-releases/

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