WASHINGTON – As protests over the death of George Floyd spread to more than 100 cities, lawmakers in Washington are acknowledging the protests and exploring ways to address police use of force.
On Thursday, Democratic senators in Washington held a moment of silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds to signify the amount of time that Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, killing him. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., joined several other senators in kneeling during the moment of silence.
In a statement, Bennet said one of the first issues he confronted when he began working for the county of Denver was the death of Paul Childs, a 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police after he would not put down a knife in 2003.
“That was almost 20 years ago. Nothing has changed,” Bennet said.
Bennet committed to exploring methods of deconstructing racism in society, ending his statement by saying “Black Lives Matter.”
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., also responded to the death of Floyd during a town hall hosted by KDVR, during which he called the killing an “injustice.”
“The murder of George Floyd seared our souls in ways that I don’t think any of us have experienced before, and it’s right to protest, it’s right to be hurt,” Gardner said.
Both Republicans and Democrats are exploring ways to respond to the demands of protesters. Republicans in the Senate led by Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., are calling for a Judiciary Committee hearing to confront racial discrimination in policing.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., both said on a call with reports Thursday that Democrats are working to put together “comprehensive” legislation addressing police brutality and law enforcement discrimination, MarketWatch reported.
A spokesman for Bennet confirmed that he is tracking conversations about legislation related to police use of force.
On Monday, Democrats in Washington plan to hold a news conference addressing their response to protesters’ demands.
Jacob Wallace is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.