African American Congressional staffers are planning a protest on the U.S. Capitol steps Thursday afternoon, disrupting their workday to speak out against the Eric Garner and Mike Brown grand jury decisions.
The protest follows large demonstrations in New York and other major cities last week, which were held to speak out about the deaths of these two African American men.
“Black staffers on Capitol Hill wanted to do something in support of ongoing national and global protests against police aggression,” an organizer said, speaking on background because the event hadn’t been announced. “Many of us felt we needed to stand with others who were taking on the issue of police abuse and do it here, where we work, even though not all of us have had that same experience, personally. Everyone I talked to has known someone who’s been directly impacted.”
The demonstration will involve staffers interrupting their workday to attend the protest during one of Congress’ busiest weeks of the year. Congress is currently debating a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, its annual Pentagon policy bill, and a bill to authorize the president to use military force against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
“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.”
There was a debate among organizers about how aggressive the action should be: a die-in somewhere in the Capitol Complex and a rally with posters were also considered.
But organizers wanted to do something that would welcome participants, Democrat and Republican, from throughout the House and Senate. These organizers decided more militant tactics could have made the gathering less inclusive, and opted for a more moderate approach.
One thing that all organizers agreed on: that it would not be held during Congressional recess, when their bosses, American Senators and Congressmen, were out of town.
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SOURCE: The Daily Beast