Democrats take a knee in US Congress in Floyd tribute

Democrats take a knee in US Congress in George Floyd tribute

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democratic lawmakers take a knee to observe a moment of silence on Capitol Hill for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. Credit: AFP Photo

Democrats knelt in silent tribute to George Floyd in the US Congress on Monday before unveiling a package of sweeping police reforms in response to the killing of African Americans by law enforcement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer were joined by two dozen lawmakers in Congress' Emancipation Hall -- named in honor of the slaves who helped erect the US Capitol in the 18th century.

They knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds to mark the length of time a white police officer pinned his knee on the neck of the 46-year-old Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis May 25 unleashed mass protests against racial injustice.

Pelosi and the other senior Democratic leaders, accompanied by members of the Black Congressional Caucus, said their bill aimed to create "meaningful, structural change that safeguards every Americans' right to safety and equal justice."

The legislation seeks to "end police brutality, hold police accountable, improve transparency in policing," a statement said.

The "Justice and Policing Act," which introduced in both chambers of Congress, would make it easier to prosecute officers and rethink how they are recruited and trained.

Its chances of passage in the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority, is highly uncertain.

President Donald Trump, who is running for re-election in November, has accused his Democratic rival Joe Biden of seeking to "defund the police" while casting himself as the "law and order" president.