Following a prayer led by Senate Chaplin Barry Black, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., spoke about Floyd’s life.
“His family wants him to be remembered not for his death, but for being family-oriented, loving and Godly,” Booker read.
“For eight minutes and 46 seconds Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on George Floyd’s neck,” Booker described. “As he kneeled on his neck, and he yelled, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” and called for his mother — today we gather here in solemn reverence to not just mark his tragic death but to give honor to his life.”
Senators Michael Bennet from Colorado, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Martin Heinrich from New Mexico, Virginian Tim Kaine and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland knelt during the moment of silence.
“George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor. May we honor those dead by protecting all who are alive,” Booker said after the moment of silence ended.
Floyd died in police custody on May 25. Protests have since grown nationwide after Chauvin was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes in moments that were captured on cellphone video. He has been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Tomas Lane — were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
All four officers had been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department.
Thursday’s moment of silence marked the first time the Senate Democratic Caucus has met in months, due to the coronavirus. The members all wore face masks and socially distanced themselves.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who was present at the moment of silence, took to Twitter Thursday to criticize the way President Trump has handled the protests in the wake of Floyd’s death.
“What is Pres. [sic] Trump doing to this democracy?” Schumer tweeted. “Americans watched federal officers directed by Pres. Trump and AG [Attorney General William] Barr use gas and rubber bullets to disperse peaceful protesters. And America’s capital is being patrolled by federal officers who refuse to identify who they are!”