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Newsom calls for new California restrictions on police use of force after death of George Floyd

Phil Willon and Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After a week of protests across the state against police brutality and racial injustice, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday called for new restrictions on crowd control techniques and the use of force by law enforcement, including a ban on so-called "carotid holds," after George Floyd was killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

Newsom said the controversial technique, a restraint that puts pressure to the sides of a person's neck to restrict blood flow and can render the person unconscious, should be barred from the state police training program, adding that he will work with state lawmakers to ban the practice among law enforcement agencies statewide.

"We train techniques on strangleholds that put people's lives at risk," Newsom said during a news briefing in Sacramento. "Now we can argue that these are used as exceptions. But at the end of the day, (a) carotid hold that literally is designed to stop people's blood from flowing into their brain, that has no place any longer in 21st-century practices and policing."

The Democratic governor vowed to work with the California Legislative Black Caucus, community leaders and law enforcement officials on new use-of-force standards, and restrictions on how to respond to protests and demonstrations.

"Protesters have the right not to be harassed. Protesters have the right to protest peacefully. Protesters have the right to do so without being arrested, gassed, shot up by projectiles," Newsom said. "That's a simple value statement."

The announcement comes at the end of a week in which Newsom embarked on a listening tour in Los Angeles, Stockton and Sacramento as protests of police brutality and demands for racial justice continued across California, part of a nationwide uprising following Floyd's death.

 

Newsom said the nation is in dire need of sweeping cultural change and commitments to equality and that the country as a whole has been paying "lip service about that for generations" to the black community. Still, he has cautioned that there were no quick fixes, and that change must be driven by community groups, nonprofits, business leaders and individuals -- along with the government.

On Friday, members of the Legislature's black and Latino caucuses, among others, introduced legislation that would make it illegal for officers to use "carotid holds."

"The world watched as the 200-pound weight of a police officer was leveraged on the neck of George Floyd for over 8 minutes," said Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gipson of Carson, the lead author of the legislation. "We all witnessed this execution. This was far beyond the existing law that authorizes a peace officer to use reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome resistance."

Earlier this week, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said his officers will "immediately" stop using the controversial neck hold, calling the decision "the right thing to do for our community."

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