WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) spoke on the House Floor today to call for Senate action on the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act and share stories of Americans speaking out in support of police reform and sharing their own stories of police brutality and racial injustice. Leader Hoyer launched JusticeInPolicing.us last month to provide Americans with the opportunity to learn about the bill and weigh in with their opinions. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video.
Click here to watch the video.
“Madam Speaker, it has now been nearly four weeks since the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Leader McConnell and the Republican-led Senate, however, refuse to call it up for consideration or a vote. Meanwhile, the problem of racial injustice is not going away on its own.
“For millions of Americans, this issue is deeply personal, having experienced racial bias in our justice system firsthand. Most police officers are trying hard to do their job professionally and serve their communities. And there are so many exemplary officers committed to addressing head on the inherent bias and the problems in the culture of policing that lead some to commit acts of misconduct. Still, millions of people live in fear simply because of the color of their skin and because of the history of police misconduct against African Americans in our country. We must never accept this as the norm.
“Indeed, in his last public appearance, John Lewis visited Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington and encouraged Americans to stand up for racial justice. He said: ‘We must continue to be bold, brave, and courageous, push and pull ‘til we redeem the soul of America and move closer to a community at peace with itself.’ His wise words continue to inspire Americans to be courageous in standing up, speaking out, and working to lift our country up to its highest ideals.
“In order to make sure that all voices are being heard in Congress and in this national discourse, I launched a website to make it easier for Americans to share their own stories, learn about the legislation we passed, and share their thoughts on our bill. It is a platform for people to contribute to this work of redeeming the soul of America, as John said. That site is JusticeinPolicing.us.
“Already, thousands of Americans from nearly every state have visited the site, and many have shared their own wrenching stories about why we need to pass this bill. One woman in my district wrote about how, as the mother of two young black men, she worries every day about them encountering the police. That isn’t good for families; it isn’t good for the police; it isn’t good for our communities; and it isn’t good for our country.
“Another wrote about how her elderly parents were pulled over in Oklahoma because the officer couldn’t believe that her African American father was married to her white mother, both in their eighties. That was just three years ago.
“One person from Iowa posted about being a lifelong Republican who is tired of her party’s failure to tackle police misconduct and systemic racism in our country. That person is right. The Republican-led Senate could act today on the George Floyd Justice in Policing. But it is sitting on Leader McConnell’s desk, gathering dust – while our site continues to gather stories of real lives impacted by these injustices. I hope Americans will continue to speak out and give compelling and concrete examples of why action is necessary. These stories need to be told.
“In his very powerful New York Times column last month on the five crises facing America at this moment in our history, David Brooks wrote: ‘All Americans, but especially White Americans, are undergoing a rapid education on the burdens African Americans carry every day. This education is continuing, but already public opinion is shifting with astonishing speed.’ As it should. And the more we hear the stories of personal experience with systemic bias, the better equipped we will be as a nation to confront this challenge together.
“As more people visit ‘JusticeinPolicing.us’ to speak up and support the bill, I will be sharing their names and stories with this House, making sure that members hear from their constituents on this issue. As long as people of color continue to face dangerous and deadly systemic bias in our country, House Democrats will not stop pushing for the reforms that are so sorely needed.”