Maxine Waters: “I’m Not Giving Up on Ending Qualified Immunity”

When it comes to holding bad cops accountable, Maxine Waters is forthright: “I’m not giving up on ending qualified immunity (QI).” On May 23, Congresswoman Waters stopped by MSNBC to discuss the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (JPA). Off the bat, The Sunday Show host Jonathan Capehart asked the California lawmaker to weigh in on House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s comments on QI. Specifically, that he’s OK with letting go of QI reform. 

As Jonathan Capehart notes, Rep. Clyburn told journalists he’s willing to compromise on QI in the JPA. On March 3, the US House of Representatives passed the bill. But more than two months later, the JPA is at a standstill in the Senate. Republicans are uneasy about repealing the doctrine. But lawmakers like Jim Clyburn are eager to pass the JPA. Especially now, on the eve of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death. Because Rep. Clyburn doesn’t want the bill to languish, he’s fine with compromising on the doctrine. 

Rep. Waters, however, disagrees with Jim Clyburn. She’s a vocal champion of police accountability. When it comes to holding bad cops accountable, Maxine Waters won’t back down.“We’ve got to be tough, we’ve got to be consistent, and…we’ve got to hold police officers accountable,” she tells Jonathan Capehart.

Rep. Waters explains why she, unlike Jim Clyburn, is unwilling to compromise on QI. To her, ending qualified immunity is a matter of life and death. Bad cops know they can rely on police unions and QI to bail them out. “That’s why, even after George Floyd, they continue to kill,” she says. And, as Rep. Waters indicates, bad cops disproportionately kill unarmed Black men. 

The only way we can truly stop police violence is to end qualified immunity. The provision to end QI is too important to give up. It’s necessary for police reform. As Congresswoman Maxine Waters tells MSNBC, ending QI must remain in the JPA. 

Watch Maxine Waters defend qualified immunity reform in the JPA here.