Thursday proved to be a special day for social justice reform, as Capitol Hill’s black staff members took a stand and staged a walkout to honor the lives of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two black men who lost their lives at the hands of white police officers.
Over 150 staff members congregated on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. to say a prayer for the men. Shortly after the prayer, the group stood in the iconic “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” pose.
Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black led the crowd in prayer, accompanied by dozens of Congressional staff and members of Congress, including civil-rights leader Rep. John Lewis. They were gathered there, Black said, to be a “voice for the voiceless.”
“Forgive us when we have failed to lift our voices for those who could not speak or breathe themselves,” Black prayed, making an unmistakable reference to the case of Garner, whose cries of, “I can’t breathe!” became an animating impetus for protesters.
A few organizers explained their decision to walk out. While they hold some of the most powerful jobs in the country, one organizer maintains they still face judgment from the outside world because of the color of their skin.
“As black staffers on Capitol Hill, we saw a stark disconnect,” the event organizer said. “While we hold education credentials and broad access in the overall political system, often when we walk outside, we contend with the fact that we are seen as dangerous, merely because of the color of our skin.”
The staff members also plan to protest along with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association and the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association to show solidarity for all human lives.
SOURCE: Daily Beast | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty