Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday joined a crowd of demonstrators outside the Capitol protesting police brutality toward black Americans following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed man who died in Minneapolis police custody.
Pelosi wore a mask and was accompanied by her usual entourage of staff and members of her security detail while walking through the crowd, which a spokesman confirmed was on the Capitol’s East Front.
Pelosi’s show of solidarity with the protesters comes as House Democrats weigh legislative options for responding to the public outrage over the recent string of deaths of unarmed black Americans.
Her appearance also comes two days after law enforcement cleared protesters outside the White House on Monday night with tear gas to make a path for President Trump to hold a brief photo opportunity outside St. John’s Episcopal Church after it had been vandalized.
Demonstrations against police brutality and racial profiling have been ongoing in Washington, D.C., and other cities nationwide for the last week.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are preparing legislative proposals for the House to consider as soon as this month, such as banning police from using chokeholds and ending the Defense Department program that gives surplus military-grade weapons to local police departments.
CBC members have also introduced measures in recent days to formally condemn police brutality and call for a commission on the legacy of slavery.
“We’ll be intense, proactive, and, again, because the American people have identified with all of these injustices, we believe, at long last, we may have some success in the United States Senate with it,” Pelosi told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier Wednesday.
Pelosi also expressed concern during the “Morning Joe” interview that the large crowds protesting police brutality could lead to the spread of the coronavirus.
“I am indeed concerned about that because it is true that wearing a mask and social distancing are very important to stopping the spread,” Pelosi said.
“And as people go out there, I hope that they know that they’re taking a risk as well as bringing home — but there’s been some good social distancing among some of the crowds, and on TV, they all look like they are very close together. I think some of them are probably practicing social distancing. Let us hope so,” she said.