On Monday, June 8, 2020, lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Sen. Kamala Harris, and others were in attendance inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., according to The Washington Post.
Before unveiling their proposed police reform bill, the “Justice in Policing Act,” the politicians, each wearing a kente cloth stole, took a knee, a la Colin Kaepernick in Emancipation Hall, named in honor of the contributions of enslaved laborers who helped construct the Capitol building.
“We are here to honor George Floyd,” Pelosi told reporters. “You see how long it was to have that knee on his neck.”
For eight minutes and 46 seconds, the politicians knelt in silence as a reminder of how long former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Congressional Democrats take a knee as they observe a nearly nine minute moment of silence for George Floyd at Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol. https://t.co/JnqDlzMFDq pic.twitter.com/8CBdgtLUjz
— ABC News (@ABC) June 8, 2020
The “Justice in Policing Act,” which is supported by 200 Democrats, seeks to reform police departments across the nation and hold them accountable. If passed, police departments would have to send data regarding when they use force to the federal government. Moreover, there would be an independent process to investigate police misconduct.
However, while the “Justice in Policing Act” is a step forward, some social media users viewed the use of kente cloth and kneeling as a tone-deaf effort to pay homage.
View reactions on social media below:
I need to know who passed out the kente cloth?? pic.twitter.com/6aoM42DNk2
— “Scottie Beam” (@ScottieBeam) June 8, 2020
White people are doing the most while still somehow refusing to do the bare minimum.
The Kente cloth has sent me to the upper room.
Exhibit A: pic.twitter.com/bDJQHycges
— David Dennis Jr. (@DavidDTSS) June 8, 2020
My ancestors did not invent Kente cloth for them to be worn by publicity-obsessesed politicians as “activism” in 2020.
— jade bentil (@divanificent) June 8, 2020
A lot of memes will be made of the politicians kneeling in Kente cloth, but I want people to take it seriously. We pay elected officials to politically represent and execute a vision. That hollow symbolism is disrespectful when you think about state violence against Black people.
— Charles Preston (@_CharlesPreston) June 8, 2020
I admit that I did not have congressional delegations draped in Kente cloth on my bingo card.
— Ida B. Wells’s Burner Account (@goldietaylor) June 8, 2020
I can’t believe Pelosi wearing Kente Cloth right now. It’s blowing my mind, I can’t even watch this press conference!
— Ja'Mal Green (@JaymalGreen) June 8, 2020