House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a knee along with her fellow Democratic colleagues to protest police brutality in the country on Monday, June 8, and called George Floyd a “martyr,” before unveiling a massive police reform bill.
To honor and stand in solidarity with Floyd – an African-American man who was killed in Minneapolis on May 25, after a police officer knelt on his neck – the team of Democrats who gathered for a press conference to reveal details of a bill, which will combat police brutality, especially with the black community, wore kente cloths. Before beginning the conference, all Democrats held a moment of silence at the Capitol for eight-minute and 46 seconds, which coincided with the amount of time the officer was seen in a presently viral social media video kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he lay face-down on the pavement with handcuffs on.
Pelosi was seen in photos from the event joining her colleagues in observing the silence. “We were there for eight minutes and 46 seconds on our knees. My members will attest it’s a very long time,” Pelosi said. “It’s a very long time, and I graciously led them in falling over when it was over so that they could do the same thing, but here we are.”
After taking the podium, Pelosi declared Floyd a ‘martyr’. “The martyrdom of George Floyd gave American experience a moment of national anguish as we grieve for the black Americans killed by police brutality,” the House Speaker said. “Today this movement of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action as Americans from across the country peacefully protest to demand an end to injustice… The martyrdom of George Floyd has made a change in the world.”
In the spirit of “standing with those fighting for justice and action,” Pelosi mentioned the names of other black victims of police brutality in the past and declared them “martyrs” as well. “Let us, my colleagues, just go over some of those names of martyrdom,” she said, before listing names like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and several others.
The piece of legislature includes sweeping changes to how the police function in the nation, including a ban on the law enforcement’s use of chokeholds or carotid holds and eliminating no-knock warrants in drug cases. In addition, all officers would mandatorily require to wear body cameras, get rid of the legal doctrine known as qualified immunity, which protects police from civil litigation and subject law enforcement officers to civilian review boards, according to congressional sources, Daily Mail reported. The bill would also create a National Police Misconduct Registry, that would list down the names of all police officers who have been accused of misconduct.
The goal of the bill was to alter “the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was reasonable to whether the force was necessary.” Although it is unclear as to whether the bill will be signed into law as the Republicans, who control the Senate, have yet to review the proposal – which according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, will happen in July. He also promised to fight tooth and nail to make the bill a reality in the near future. “In the Senate, Democrats are going to fight like hell to make it a reality,” Schumer said, urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to act swiftly. “Democrats will not let this go away.”