US President Donald Trump has met with fresh criticism for what critics described as “woeful” his attempt at police reform that could not address systemic racism.
In a Rose Garden ceremony on Tuesday, the Republican president signed an executive order on police reform after weeks of protests over the brutal death in custody of an unarmed black man and widespread calls for action against such police behavior.
The protests erupted in response to the killing of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.
Trump issued an executive order that would discourage police from using chokeholds and call for a National Database that tracks officers who use excessive force.
But he faced criticism as critics say the order fell far short of the demands of Black Lives Matter activists seeking fundamental change.
Activists and lawmakers have been wanting an outright ban on chokeholds with no exception and on no-knock warrants, among other things.
But the president said, under a new credentialing process, chokeholds will be banned “except if an officer’s life is at risk”.
Democrats slammed Trump for lack of ambition, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling the president’s order “weak.”
Speaking on MSNBC, Pelosi criticized Trump’s Rose Garden event as “a photo op” and said the executive order “fell sadly and seriously short.”
Chuck Schumer, the minority leader in the Senate, said, “Unfortunately, this executive order will not deliver the comprehensive meaningful change and accountability in our nation’s police departments that Americans are demanding.”
Meanwhile, Vanita Gupta, president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said, “This executive order is a woeful attempt to shift focus from the dangerous rhetoric and policies he has previously promoted.”
“Piecemeal reform effort will not achieve the transformative change needed to heal our country and usher in a new era of public safety in which all communities thrive.”
There have also been calls for US police departments to be defunded after Floyd’s death.
But Trump said, “I strongly oppose radical and dangerous efforts to [defund], dismantle and dissolve our police departments.”
“Americans know the truth: Without police, there is chaos; without law, there is anarchy; and without safety, there is catastrophe. We need leaders at every level of government who have the moral clarity to state these obvious facts.”