While announcing a new plan for addressing police brutality, Democrats held a moment of silence for George Floyd but drew mockery on social media by wearing kente cloths for the occasion.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi led about a dozen House and Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and California Sen. Kamala Harris, at the Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol Monday to honor Floyd.
They knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time that now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck, which resulted in Floyd’s death on Memorial Day.
Democrats made the gesture made before proposing legislation for comprehensive police reforms.
Some of the provisions of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would limit qualified immunity protections, create a national police misconduct registry, ban chokeholds, restrict the transfer of military-grade equipment to police departments and make lynching a federal hate crime.
However, it does not include a proposal to defund the police as many who are protesting have advocated.
“We’re here because Black Americans want to stop being killed,” Harris said at the press conference.
Congressional Democrats take a knee as they observe a nearly nine minute moment of silence for George Floyd at Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol. https://t.co/JnqDlzMFDq pic.twitter.com/8CBdgtLUjz
— ABC News (@ABC) June 8, 2020
“We are here to honor George Floyd,” Pelosi said before the moment of silence began.
After the moment passed, Pelosi acknowledged the impact of the length of time and what Floyd endured. “You see how long it was to have that knee on his neck,” she said.
Despite the significance of the legislation proposed by lawmakers, the moment of silence was derided by many on social media because they wore African kente cloth scarves. Many found the piece of clothing to be more performative than authentically supportive.
My ancestors did not invent Kente cloth for them to be worn by publicity-obsessesed politicians as “activism” in 2020.
— jade (@divanificent) June 8, 2020
I am not sure what’s funnier, those ridiculous politicians wearing kente cloth or Cory Booker smartly opting out of that absurd performance.
— roxane gay (@rgay) June 8, 2020
Who was intern that said, “You know what’ll drill home the point? KENTE CLOTH.” https://t.co/jTmoLeyKhl
— Justin Tinsley (@JustinTinsley) June 8, 2020
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass noted the protests that have swept the country since Floyd died. She said it was indicative of a shift in the nation.
“The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in our country,” Bass said. “A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession where you have highly trained officers accountable to the public.”
Schumer said an effort like this had never been done on the federal level and leadership wanted to have a vote cast before July.
“A divided nation cannot wait for healing, for solutions,” Schumer said.