WASHINGTON –Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., introduced a resolution Friday asking the House of Representatives to condemn "police brutality, racial profiling and the excessive use of force" following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers.
Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis police custody this week after a white officer pinned him to the ground under his knee. His death has sparked demonstrations against police brutality and racial discrimination in cities across the United States.
Taylor was a 26-year-old emergency room technician who was shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police in March while they were executing a search warrant at her apartment as part of a narcotics investigation. Taylor's boyfriend said he did not hear officers announce themselves and fired a single shot, striking Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the femoral artery. In turn, Mattingly and other officers shot more than 20 rounds, striking Taylor at least eight times. She died in the hallway of her apartment.
“For too long, Black and brown bodies have been profiled, surveilled, policed, lynched, choked, brutalized and murdered at the hands of police officers,” said Pressley. “We cannot allow these fatal injustices to go unchecked any longer. There can be no justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or any of the human beings who have been killed by law enforcement, for in a just world, they would still be alive. There must, however, be accountability.”
Omar, who represents the district that includes all of Minneapolis, and Pressley partnered with Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Karen Bass, D-Calif., who is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Soon after the congresswomen announced their resolution, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced his committee would hold a hearing on police use of force, saying, they intend "to call a wide variety of witnesses on the topics of better policing, addressing racial discrimination regarding the use of force, as well as building stronger bonds between communities and police.
“We intend to shine a bright light on the problems associated with Mr. Floyd’s death, with the goal of finding a better way forward for our nation,” he continued.
The resolution calls for policies and reforms "at all levels of government," including improvements to independent investigations "to hold individual law officers and police departments accountable;" calling on DOJ to reaffirm its statutory authority for such investigations; and adopting "sound and unbiased law enforcement policies" to reduce uses of force that disproportionately impact "Black and Brown people and other historically marginalized communities."
Omar wrote, “From slavery to lynching to Jim Crow, Black people in this country have been brutalized and dehumanized for centuries.”
“The murder of George Floyd in my district is not a one-off event. We cannot fully right these wrongs until we admit we have a problem. As the People’s House, the House of Representatives must acknowledge these historical injustices and call for a comprehensive solution. There are many steps on the path to justice, but we must begin to take them,” she continued.
We must end the targeting of black and brown bodies by our law enforcement. Today, I introduced a resolution to condemn police brutality, racial profiling and excessive use of force with my sister in service @RepPressley. https://t.co/wegblwfLJ2 pic.twitter.com/opBxVFsR2a— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) May 29, 2020
Separately, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter Thursday calling on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether there’s a “pattern or practice” in the conduct of police officers involving the death of Floyd. They also called for the agency to look into patterns in the case of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, who was shot and killed by two white men, and Taylor.
“The fair, transparent, and equal administration of justice is a bedrock principle for citizens to maintain the trust required to govern themselves in an ordered society,’’ they wrote.
Bass said the caucus will also address “these renewed attacks’’ against communities of color, including at a town hall next week, along with press conferences and resolutions.
“It is really unprecedented the attacks across our communities,’’ said Bass.
On the House floor Thursday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said he respected police officers protecting their communities.
“But we cannot tolerate police violence and we cannot tolerate police brutality. George Floyd was murdered by an out-of-control police officer,’’ he said. “When will it end?’’
Jeffries named other black men killed by police who were not found guilty. “Congress must do everything in its power to stop this type of tragedy from ever happening again,” he said.
Contributing: Deborah Berry
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: George Floyd: Omar, Pressley resolution condemns police brutality