An estimated 150 Congressional staffers walked out of their Capitol Hill offices and onto the House of Representatives steps Thursday in solemn protest over the Eric Garner and Michael Brown grand jury verdicts. The staffers, predominantly African-American, performed the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture in unison.
“We’re gathered here today so that we can be the voice for the voiceless,” Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black said. “There is a power that has fueled our nation toward excellence through the centuries, and we are here today to take advantage of the free exercise rights guaranteed to us by the framers and founders of this nation.”
Powerful moment today in the United States capitol as Congressional Staffers protest non indictments pic.twitter.com/fgkkNxJJZ1— SPOOKY MATT ROTH (@MattRoth512) December 11, 2014
“Black staffers on Capitol Hill wanted to do something in support of ongoing national and global protests against police aggression,” an organizer told the Daily Beast. “Many of us felt we needed to stand with others who were taking on the issue of police abuse and do it here, where we work, even though not all of us have had that same experience, personally. Everyone I talked to has known someone who’s been directly impacted.”
The protest also reportedly toyed with the notion of orchestrating a so-called die-in but opted instead for the silent protest.
Leading the protesters in prayer, Dr. Black continued: “Forgive us when we have failed to lift our voices for those who couldn’t speak or breathe for themselves. May we not forget that in our national history injustice has often been maintained because good people failed to promptly act. Forgive, oh god, our culpability in contributing to our national pathology.”
The Washington protest follows a U.S. House floor “hands up, don’t shoot” demonstration by four U.S. Congressmen earlier this month.
Screengrab via NBC News