The social unrest following the assassination of George Floyd last Monday in Minneapolis has not only flooded the streets with protests of all kinds, but has also prompted members of Congress to change the way they do politics in times of crisis.
New Congressional Representatives Ayana Pressley (D-MA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) have decided to join forces and raise funds “to stand up for racial justice.”
“In pivotal moments like this, we must uplift the people and organizations on the ground doing the critical work to rebuild our communities, like Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block,” their online fundraising campaign reads.
“Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are coming together to raise $50,000 for these organizations. Join them in demanding racial justice by donating whatever you can.”
The so-called “Squad” has drawn attention during protests over the disproportionate allocation of federal funds to police forces, while hospitals and health care facilities were unable to obtain sufficient protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It makes no sense that if the NYPD can have a $6 billion a year budget that our schools should go underfunded,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “That’s not right.”
@NYCMayor your comments tonight were unacceptable.
As mayor, this police department is under your leadership.
This moment demands leadership & accountability from each of us. Defending and making excuses for NYPD running SUVs into crowds was wrong.
Make it right. De-escalate.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 31, 2020
“Today, the U.S. spends $100 billion a year on militarizing the policy and $80 billion on incarceration,” Tlaib agreed. “In Michigan, the largest budget line item is funding of prisons. This while Detroit kids are fighting for the right to literacy, access to water and equity for all.”
For their part, Omar and Pressley introduced a resolution condemning police brutality, racial profiling, and excessive use of force.
In partnership with Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), the representatives have not only called on the House of Representatives to condemn acts of police brutality, but also to adopt reforms and policies “at all levels of government,” they said in their press release.
The proposal includes improvements in oversight and independent investigations to hold police officers and departments accountable, asking the Justice Department to “reassert its statutory authority” to investigate individual cases, and even creating “all-civilian review boards” with the authority to investigate incidents of police misconduct.
“For too long, Black and brown bodies have been profiled, surveilled, policed, lynched, choked, brutalized and murdered at the hands of police officers,” said Congresswoman 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.”
“From slavery to lynching to Jim Crow, Black people in this country have been brutalized and dehumanized for centuries,” said Congresswoman Omar. “The war on drugs, mass criminalization, and increasingly militarized police forces have led to the targeting, torture and murder of countless Americans, disproportionately black and brown. 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.”