Democratic lawmakers took a knee for nearly nine minutes Monday in tribute to George Floyd, prior to revealing a package of sweeping police reform proposals in response to the killings of African Americans by police officers.
“We are here to honor George Floyd,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said before the moment of silence began.
After almost nine minutes, Pelosi and the other lawmakers stood up. “You see how long it was to have that knee on his neck,” Pelosi said.
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Joined by roughly two dozen lawmakers, all wearing African kente cloth scarves, Pelosi stressed the importance of acting now.
“This movement of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action,” she said.
The Democratic bill called the Justice and Policing Act aims to “end police brutality, hold police accountable (and) improve transparency in policing,” as well as to create “meaningful, structural change that safeguards every Americans’ right to safety and equal justice.”
The proposed legislation is being introduced in both chambers of Congress. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Senators Kamala Harris (D-California) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) were also in attendance.
The policing legislation, introduced by Harris, Booker and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), would ban the use of choke holds by officers as well as mandate dashboard cameras and body cameras.
“We have confused having safe communities with hiring more cops on the street,” said Harris. “The real way to achieve safe and healthy communities, is to invest in those communities… Many in America right now already live in places with minimal police presence.”
“A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly trained officers who are accountable to the public,” Bass added.