UPDATED 4:10 pm – Samirah’s explanation is not going over well, to put it mildly, with his Democratic colleagues, including the Qualified Immunity bill’s sponsor, Del. Jeff Bourne. Ouch.
Yesterday, as we posted about here, the Virginia House of Delegates voted 47-48-3 on Del. Jeff Bourne’s qualified immunity bill, killing the bill. All Republicans voted no, of course, while all Democrats voted for it, with the exception of five who voted against (Dels. David Bulova, Ibraheem Samirah, Martha Mugler, Shelly Simonds, Steve Heretick), plus three Ds (Kaye Kory, Cliff Hayes, Kelly Convirs-Fowler) abstaining. By far the most surprising “no” vote was by Del. Ibraheem Samirah, who is one of the most progressive Virginia legislators. Perhaps not surprisingly, Samirah’s “no” vote elicited a lot of confusion and comment, much of it negative (he says he was “torn apart,” called a “liar,” a “fake,” etc.). A few minutes ago, Del. Samirah weighed in, explaining his thinking. The video’s below, but in short:
- Samirah argues that the bill is flawed, specifically that “removing qualified immunity without also preventing local law enforcement agencies from using taxes collected from all Virginians to protect law enforcement in lawsuits only makes the systemic problems of policing at the local level worse...Virginia’s local law enforcement…will not be facing the full financial repercussions caused by their systemically violent law enforcement accountability systems if they are allowed to use state funds to protect themselves.”
- Samirah adds that “we cannot fix this problem without divesting and reinvesting money away from law enforcement” and also that “white supremacy thrives on law enforcement, because it’s an ideology that is inscribed into…every facet of law enforcement…With white supremacy being so ingrained…we cannot continue to rely on law enforcement to bring justice to lower income families and and brown and black lives.”
- Samirah says he voted “no” yesterday in part because the legislation, “with or without my vote of support for it, was known prior to its vote taking place, to be on a pathway to failing to pass the House of Delegates with a majority vote,” and that by voting “no,” he knew he’d be on the “prevailing side” and could then move to “reconsider” the bill at a future date (under “Rule 70”). Samirah says he had “informed my House Democratic Caucus of my intent to vote ‘no’ so I could be on the prevailing side.” But Samirah incorrectly says it was a 47-49 vote, when actually it was just 47-48 (with three abstentions; note that the Legislative Information System initially reported it as 47-49-3, but then correct it to 47-48-3). So if Samirah had voted “yes” instead of “no,” the vote would have been 48-47 in favor… and passed. UPDATE 4:13 pm – Also, note that Samirah is getting harshly called out by his Democratic colleagues (see tweets by Delegates Jeff Bourne and Schuyler VanValkenburg, above), who are basically saying Samirah’s full of…uh…stuff.
- Samirah strongly suggested that he’ll motion to bring back the legislation (which he described as “watered down“) for reconsideration, and will “do something big with that,” specifically an amendment “that would make it illegal for all law enforcement agencies that are not under the direct supervision of the Commonwealth of Virginia to use state funds in legal proceedings that protect law enforcement.” UPDATE 4:14 pm – This seems highly dubious, based on everything Samirah’s colleagues are saying, including Samirah taking a “virtual walk on engrossment.”