Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., in a press conference Wednesday backed away from the calls of his liberal colleagues to defund the police.
Still, he said policing in the U.S. needs substantial reform.
“We definitely need reforms in the space of qualified immunity,” the Virginia Democrat said, asked about a tweet from Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. “But I, I am not in the camp that says, you know, we should disrespect police, we should reform police where police are necessary.”
“It wasn’t an accident,” Tlaib tweeted after news of the police-involved shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota. “Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder.”
“No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed,” the congresswoman added.
“I don’t need to tell anybody what to say, you asked me what I think,” Kaine said when asked about Tlaib’s message. “I was a mayor with a police force. I was governor with the state police force. Our police, I mean, look, I’m going to a funeral, a police officer right now, gave his life to protect us and we need good policing.” He added that qualified immunity currently shields police who engage in “reckless behavior.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki added that Tlaib’s tweet was “not the president’s view.”
A Minnesota police officer fired a shot that killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop Monday in what has been described by police as an “accidental discharge.”
Kaine also expressed concerns over a bill pushed by Democrats to address hate crimes that target Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI). He said the bill may have been rushed and should go through committee first.
“We should try to get to bipartisan support on this and I’m a little troubled about the notion of just having a snap floor vote when the bill hasn’t gone through committee,” Kaine said. “In my experience here, you tend to have snap floor votes on the partisan things, but you go through committee on these really important things.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., introduced a bill that would assign a Justice Department official to expedite reviews of COVID-19 related hate crimes and create an online database of such incidents. The bill would also institute new guidance to “mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing” the pandemic. Democrats are hoping to bring it forward for a vote as soon as Wednesday.