Graham Calls Qualified Immunity a ‘Problem’ But Says Policing System ‘Not Racist’

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Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said Sunday that the U.S. faces racism in the form of “bad actors” but argued that “our systems are not racist,” days after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on all charges in George Floyd’s murder trial.

“America is not a racist country,” Graham said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

“This attack on police and policing…reform the police yes, call them all racists no,” Graham added.

Graham said that Congress could reach a bipartisan agreement on police reform if Democrats would alter their calls to end qualified immunity, which safeguards police officers and departments from most lawsuits in cases of police violence.

Graham said he would support suing a department instead of individuals.

“Qualified immunity is a problem. It’s a pretty simple solution: Don’t sue the police officer, sue the department,” Graham said.

“If you want to destroy policing in America make sure every police officer gets sued when they leave the house,” he added.

Graham’s comments are in line with those of Senator Tim Scott (R., S.C.), who is representing Republicans in police reform negotiations and has proposed legislation that would make it easier to sue police departments for misconduct, rather than making individual officers liable, as Democrats have proposed.

Calls to reform or altogether abolish police departments have become pervasive in the last year after Chauvin was seen in video of Floyd’s arrest kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes even as Floyd became unconscious. On Tuesday, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd’s death set off months of civil unrest and discussions about race and police conduct in cities nationwide.