June 4 (UPI) — Senate Democrats at the Capitol on Thursday honored George Floyd and two other black Americans who were recently killed with 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence.
Lawmakers chose the 8:46 duration because that was the length of time prosecutors say Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin had his knee pressed down onto Floyd’s neck during the arrest last week.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker led the tribute to remember Floyd, as well as Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Arbery died in February after being attacked as he jogged in Brunswick, Ga. Taylor died in March during a police raid at her Louisville, Ky., apartment.
During Thursday’s ceremony, Senate Chaplain Barry Black opened by expressing solidarity with “courageous Americans who are peacefully protesting against racial injustice.” Booker said the minutes of silence also honored the victims’ lives.
Some lawmakers, including Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Michael Bennett of Colorado knelt on the floor of Emancipation Hall for the tribute.
Emancipation Hall is the main hall of the Capitol visitor’s center and is named to recognize the contributions of enslaved laborers who helped build the complex in the late 1700s.
Earlier, Democrats in the House and Senate promised a package in the coming weeks that will address police reforms and inequality.
“This is not the end of the conversation,” West Virginia Sen. Mark Warner tweeted before the ceremony. “It is the beginning. We will honor their lives with action and reform.”
Three men who have been charged in Arbery’s death appeared in court on Thursday.