WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – The Gray Television Washington News Bureau spoke to 30 lawmakers from across the country in the weeks following the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
We interviewed both Republicans and Democrats in rural and urban areas. These lawmakers are responsible for representing the communities where protesters make their voices heard.
“People have the right to protest,” said Representative Kelly Armstrong (RN.D.).
“They want to be heard and say it’s not fair,” said Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.).
“People are feeling desperate,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).
Lawmakers we spoke to encourage peaceful protests, but not violence.
“We can’t be destructive because it distracts attention from the message,” said Representative GK Butterfield (DN.C.).
Some members of Congress are taking action, working on issues raised by protesters across the country.
Democrats on Monday announced legislation to reform the application of federal, local and state laws.
The bill, titled the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, includes a ban on police strangling, makes monitoring and reporting of cases of excessive force mandatory across the country, and would increase police use of on-board cameras and bodily.
“We need to control the use of excessive force,” said Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.). “Reform and balance and cultural training for our law enforcement staff.”
The bill is drafted by Democrats with no Republican signed on as a co-sponsor.
“We also have to recognize, however, that there are law enforcement officers, overall 99.9% of them are heroic and sacrificial officials,” Rep. Mike Johnson (R -The.).
As protesters kneel in front of Capitol Hill, pressure is put on lawmakers to do something. But with a divided Congress, change will not be easy.
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