As protests continue, lawmakers respond to demands for change

Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 8:49 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Gray Television Washington News Bureau talked to 30 lawmakers from across the country in the weeks since George Floyd’s death while in police custody.

We interviewed both Republicans and Democrats from rural areas and cities. These lawmakers are charged with representing the communities where protestors are making their voices heard.

"People have a right to protest,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) said.

“They want to be heard and say this is not right,” Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.) said.

"People are feeling desperate,” Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-Maine) said.

The lawmakers we talked to are encouraging peaceful protests, but not violence.

“We cannot have destructive behavior, because it distracts from the message,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said.

Some members of Congress are taking action, working on the issues raised by protestors across the country.

Democrats announced legislation Monday aiming to reform federal, local and state law enforcement.

The bill, called the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, includes a ban on police chokeholds, mandates tracking and reporting cases of excessive force throughout the nation, and would increase police use of dash and body cameras.

"We need to control the use of excessive force,” Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) said. “Reform and balance and cultural training for our law enforcement personnel.”

The bill is written by Democrats with no Republicans signed on as co-sponsors.

“We also have to recognize, however, there are law enforcement officers, by and large, 99.9 percent of them are heroic, sacrificial public servants,” Rep. Mike Johnson, (R-La.) said.

As protestors kneel outside the Capitol, there is pressure on lawmakers to do something. But with a divided Congress, change will not be easy.

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