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Democrats wear African kente cloths, take a knee for George Floyd before introducing police reform bill
Democrats from the House and Senate honor George Floyd with 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence on Monday in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Democrats wear African kente cloths, take a knee for George Floyd before introducing police reform legislation

Maybe a bit much

Congressional Democrats engaged in some performative demonstration Monday morning before introducing a police reform legislative package while wearing traditional west African accessories.

Democrats from the House and Senate knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in the Capitol Visitor Center while wearing kente cloths, with the time being a reference to how long George Floyd was pinned to the ground by the former Minneapolis police officer who killed him.

Once they got up, they held a joint news conference during which they unveiled a police reform legislative package that included a ban on chokeholds and some increased accountability measures for police departments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the details of the reforms are not the main story, however.

"The story that leaves here, as Mr. [James] Clyburn said, is liberty and justice for all," Pelosi said.

Pelosi also dismissed safety concerns some have expressed amid all the talk of pulling funding from police departments.

"The martyrdom of George Floyd — and by Tuesday, by tomorrow, may he rest in peace — has made a change in the world," Pelosi said. "So let's not get into these questions that may be from the small minds of some, as far as safety is concerned, but look at it writ large."

Safety is a concern as some pivot from calls for police reform to calls to defund the police, or in the case of Minneapolis, disbanding the police department altogether. These movements lead to obvious questions about public safety, and what potential replacements for police departments look like. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden does not support defunding police.

Some on the right are open to a decrease in the power of government law enforcement, believing in the value of exercising the right to bear arms for personal protection of property. However, in Democratic areas where gun rights are consistently under attack, it's unclear what an alternative to police departments would look like for public safety.

Minnesota City Council President Lisa Bender said on CNN that questions about who one might call in the event of a home invasion if not the police come from a place of privilege.

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