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Rep. Ayanna Pressley says Black Lives Matter is a mandated directive: 'Pay us what you owe us'
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Rep. Ayanna Pressley says Black Lives Matter is a mandated directive: 'Pay us what you owe us'

Black bodies, she says, are 'criminalized'

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) said this week that Black Lives Matter is a directive from activists for white Americans to "pay us what you owe us."

What are the details?

During a Thursday speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, the Democratic lawmaker discussed the Justice in Policing Act, which she said was a critical piece of legislation to achieve equality and safety for black people in the U.S.

"I rise today on behalf of every black family that has been robbed of a child," she began.

"On behalf of every family member that has been forced to see their loved one lynched on national television," she continued, pointing out cases of police brutality against black Americans. "Driving while black. Jogging while black. Sleeping while black."

Pressley explained that black bodies are "criminalized" in the world simply on the grounds of their skin color.

"We have been criminalized for the very way we show up in the world," Pressley added. "Under the harsh gaze of far too many, my black body is seen as a threat, always considered armed. Centuries of institutionalized oppression will not be undone overnight, for racism in America is as structural as the marble pillars of this very institution."

She pointed out the importance of the Justice in Policing Act, which she explained is a "critical step forward" for the United States.

"With the power of the pen we must legislate accountability, dismantle these systems, and move in the direction of justice and healing," she insisted. "The Justice in Policing Act is a critical step forward and I applaud the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus. But our work is unfinished. There is a rallying cry in communities across the nation. Black Lives Matter is a mandate from the people. It's time. Pay us what you owe us."

"Our black skin is not a crime," she concluded. "It is the beautiful robe of nation builders. Thank you, I yield."

What else?

The House on Thursday night passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

The bill passed 236-181. Just three Republicans — Reps. Will Hurd (Texas), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), and Fred Upton (Mich.) — voted "yes" on the measure.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) co-sponsored the legislation alongside Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y). Bass also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, and Nadler chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

The act, which demands expanded police accountability and transparency in policing, is headed to the Senate.

The bill intends to "hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies." The bill also prohibits the use of chokeholds and would create a national police misconduct registry in order to establish pattern tracking in instances of police brutality and excessive use of force.

In a statement, Pelosi said that the bill would "fundamentally transform" the way law enforcement works.

"Today," she said in remarks, "with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the House is honoring his life and the lives of all killed by police brutality, and pledging: Never again. We have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure that his death, and the deaths of so many others, are not in vain."

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