As the verdicts were being read in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday evening in Minneapolis, 56 Black members of Congress huddled together on Capitol Hill holding their collective breath. The Congressional Black Caucus, gathered to watch the verdicts handed down, then came to the cameras, with Chair Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, telling reporters that while the group “certainly” agrees with the guilty verdicts, this is “just a first step.”
“We will fight continuously for all of those who died or have been injured senselessly by law enforcement,” Beatty said. “We know that there are still the mothers, the families, the children who are shedding tears today, because the verdict will not bring back their family.”
Rep. Cori Bush, a Missouri Democrat, lamented that these situations had become so commonplace, saying stopping them is her goal as a lawmaker.
“This was accountability, but it’s not yet justice,” Bush said. “Justice for us is saving lives.”
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said that it is crucial that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, saying that since his death, many other Americans have died at the hands of law enforcement.
“So now we have to focus on transforming policing in the United States since George Floyd’s murder of a year ago — over 100 people have died at the hands of police,” Bass said. “As a matter of fact, since the trial started on March 29, 63 people have died at the hands of police. In my opinion, this is (a) human rights issue in the United States of America ” The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which among other provisions bans the use of police chokeholds, passed in the House by a vote of 220-212 last month but has since stalled in the Senate. Shortly after the Floyd verdict was handed down, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that the committee would hold a hearing next month addressing police reform.