Do you have goosebumps yet? Black Congressional staffers staged a walkout on Thursday afternoon and gathered on the steps of the Capitol Building to show unity with the protests that are going on around the world in support of Eric Garner and Michael Brown’s devastating grand jury decisions. The above photo shoes more than 150 staffers of color in quiet protest, hands up in surrender, the same way it’s rumored that Michael Brown’s hands were when Office Darren Wilson shot him dead. This walkout is reminiscent of the 250-300 aids who rallied on the Capitol hill steps in hoodies after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.
The staffers planned on protesting in some way, but questioned how aggressive they should be. They wanted to stage a die-in in the Capitol Complex or a rally, but settled on the walkout as the most peaceable and something that would welcome participants from the House and Senate. “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.”
Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black led the crowd in prayer, “Forgive us when we have failed to lit our voices for those who could not speak or breathe themselves,” Black prayed, making an unmistakeable reference to the case of Garner, whose cries of, “I can’t breathe!” Black was accompanied by dozens of Congressional staff and members of Congress, including civil-rights leader Rep. John Lewis. Black said they were gathered there to be a “voice for the voiceless.” And that they were. It’s amazing to see the people who stand on a bigger platform that the average citizen are stepping up and making a statement about systematic racism in America. Who cares about whether or not a celebrity like Jay Z speaks on behalf of Ferguson or Eric Garner–he doesn’t influence any decisions on Capitol Hill, but these people do.
“Black staffers on Capitol Hill wanted to do something in support of ongoing national and global protests against police aggression,” an organizer said Wednesday before the event. “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.”
This is a beautiful and powerful display of activism. What do you think beauties?