WALKOUT: Black staffers lead a dignified protest on Capitol Hill in Washington (PA)
MORE THAN 100 Congressional law-makers and staffers led a poignant walk-out in Washington DC in protest over the “injustice” of US Grand juries deciding to not bring criminal charges against police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
House of Representatives Congressmen Elijah Cummings and Marc Veasey were two of the leading law-makers who took part in the demonstration on Capitol Hill on Thursday (Dec 11).
Standing on the steps of the iconic Capitol building, the group raised their hands for the popularised “don’t shoot” refrain which recalls witness testimony concerning the Ferguson, Missouri, killing of Michael who was unarmed and is said to have surrendered before being shot dead by officer Darren Wilson in August, this year.
Referring to Michael’s death and the New York police chokehold killing of Garner, in July, Senate chaplain Barry Black said the walk-out was giving a voice “for those who couldn’t speak or breathe for themselves”.
Black led the solemn demonstration with a prayer and said: “Today as people throughout the nation protest for justice in our lands, 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.
VOICE OF VOICELESS: Congressman Elijah Cummings, centre, walks to Capitol Hill (PA)
“Forgive oh God, our culpability in contributing to our national pathology as you keep us aware of our own capacity to be instruments of injustice.”
Earlier this month a Grand Jury said NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo would not face any charges for the fatal restraint of Garner, despite video evidence of the incident in which the 43-year-old civilian can be heard saying he “can’t breath”.
Meanwhile, Garner’s daughter Erica staged a die-in protest in Staten Island, New York, on the same day the law-makers highlighted their grievances with the US judicial system.
The fatherless 24-year-old led a group of protesters through the streets on a march before they lied down at the spot where Garner was killed after he was stopped by officers who suspected him of selling untaxed cigarettes.
The peaceful protests events in Washington and New York come after demonstrators in London this week held a mass protest at a west London shopping centre in memory of Garner and Michael. Over 600 people attended the event on Wednesday (Dec 10), but it was marred by unrest that resulted in police arresting 76 people on suspicion of public disorder and criminal damage offences.