Katelyn Caralle, Daily Mail, June 4, 2020
A few Democratic senators took a knee at the Capitol Thursday during a more than eight-minute moment of silence for George Floyd, whose death at the hands of a white cop sparked widespread unrest.
Following a prayer from New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, caucus members, each standing six from the next and wearing facial coverings, observed an eight minute and 46 second moment of silence – the amount of time a video shows police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee lodged on Floyd’s neck.
Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland were the senators who knelt to the ground in solidarity with black people demanding justice.
The rest remained standing with their heads lowered in silence.
‘Today we gather here in solemn reverence to not just mark his tragic death but to give honor to his life,’ Booker said.
‘George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor. May we honor those dead by protecting all who are alive,’ Booker said after the moment of silence.
A bystander filming the incident between Floyd and Chauvin – and four other cops – on Memorial Day shows the police officer kneeling on the victim’s neck while he said he was in pain and could not breathe. After a few minutes, Floyd was rendered unresponsive.
He was later pronounced dead after an ambulance took him away from the scene.
Video of the incident, which went viral last week sparked riots and protests and civil unrest in cities all over the country, and while demonstrations became more civil in recent days, there were several nights of looting, arson and destruction.
Chauvin is facing second-degree murder charges in Minnesota, an upgrade from the previous third-degree murder and manslaughter charges that were levied against the former police officer last week.
The three other officers involved in the deadly arrest, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Tomas Lane, were charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting in second-degree murder.
All four were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department the day after Floyd died.
Booker described the silence as a ‘very painful moment’ and said his fellow senators feel ‘a deep level of anguish, actually, and anger and hurt.’
‘They, like so many Americans, want to do something,’ he told reporters on Capitol Hill of Democratic colleagues. ‘And we all know we’re all working on legislation but the conversations that led to this was because people feel, in my opinion, that we need to do more.’
‘For all of us, this would be a moment of solidarity and sort of sharing common spirited grief so it was very moving to me to see everyone,’ he added.
The meeting Thursday was the first time the Senate Democratic Caucus has come together in-person in several months in light of the coronavirus pandemic limiting non-virtual or distanced gatherings.
During their lunch meeting, senators also remained socially distanced and wore masks.